Low abundance of insulin-induced gene 1 contributes to SREBP-1c processing and hepatic steatosis in dairy cows with severe fatty liver

Yiwei Zhu, Lin Lei, Xinghui Wang, Qianming Jiang, Juan J. Loor, Fanrong Kong, Linfang Chen, Jinxia Li, Chenchen Zhao, Menglin Liu, Guowen Liu, Xinwei Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fatty liver is a major metabolic disorder of high-producing dairy cows during the transition period. In nonruminants, it is well established that insulin-induced gene 1 (INSIG1) plays a crucial role in regulating hepatic lipogenesis by controlling the anchoring of sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP-1) on the endoplasmic reticulum along with SREBP cleavage-activating protein (SCAP). Whether the INSIG1-SCAP-SREBP-1c transport axis is affected in cows experiencing fatty liver is unknown. Thus, the aim of this study was to investigate the potential role of INSIG1-SCAP-SREBP-1c axis in the progression of fatty liver in dairy cows. For in vivo experiments, 24 dairy cows at the start of their fourth lactation (median; range 3–5) and 8 d in milk (median; range 4–12 d) were selected into a healthy group [n = 12; triglyceride (TG) content <1%] and a severe fatty liver group (n = 12; TG content >10%) according to their hepatic TG content. Blood samples were collected for detecting serum concentrations of free fatty acids, β-hydroxybutyrate, and glucose. Compared with healthy cows, cows with severe fatty liver had higher serum concentrations of β-hydroxybutyrate and free fatty acids and lower concentration of glucose. Liver biopsies were used to detect the status of INSIG1-SCAP-SREBP-1c axis, and the mRNA expression of SREBP-1c-target lipogenic genes acetyl-CoA carboxylase α (ACACA), fatty acid synthase (FASN), and diacylglycerol acyltransferase 1 (DGAT1). Cows with severe fatty liver had lower protein expression of INSIG1 in the hepatocyte endoplasmic reticulum fraction, greater protein expression of SCAP and precursor SREBP-1c in the hepatocyte Golgi fraction, and greater protein expression of mature SREBP-1c in the hepatocyte nuclear fraction. In addition, the mRNA expression of SREBP-1c-target lipogenic genes ACACA, FASN, and DGAT1 was greater in the liver of dairy cows with severe fatty liver. In vitro experiments were conducted on hepatocytes isolated from 5 healthy 1-d-old female Holstein calves, and hepatocytes from each calf were run independently. First, hepatocytes were treated with 0, 200, or 400 μM palmitic acid (PA) for 12 h. Exogenous PA treatment decreased INSIG1 protein abundance, enhanced the endoplasmic reticulum to Golgi export of SCAP–precursor SREBP-1c complex and the nuclear translocation of mature SREBP-1c, all of which was associated with increased transcriptional activation of lipogenic genes and TG synthesis. Second, hepatocytes were transfected with INSIG1-overexpressing adenovirus for 48 h and treated with 400 μM PA 12 h before the end of transfection. Overexpressing INSIG1 inhibited PA-induced SREBP-1c processing, upregulation of lipogenic genes, and TG synthesis in hepatocytes. Overall, the present in vivo and in vitro results indicated that the low abundance of INSIG1 contributed to SREBP-1c processing and hepatic steatosis in dairy cows. Thus, the INSIG1-SCAP-SREBP-1c axis may be a novel target for treatment of fatty liver in dairy cows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5626-5635
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Dairy Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • SREBP cleavage-activating protein
  • fatty liver
  • insulin-induced gene 1
  • sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1c

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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