Phosphorylation of hepatic farnesoid X receptor by FGF19 signaling–activated Src maintains cholesterol levels and protects from atherosclerosis

Sangwon Byun, Hyunkyung Jung, Jinjing Chen, Young Chae Kim, Dong Hyun Kim, Bo Kong, Grace Guo, Byron Kemper, Jongsook Kim Kemper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The bile acid (BA) nuclear receptor, farnesoid X receptor (FXR/NR1H4), maintains metabolic homeostasis by transcriptional control of numerous genes, including an intestinal hormone, fibroblast growth factor-19 (FGF19; FGF15 in mice). Besides activation by BAs, the gene-regulatory function of FXR is also modulated by hormone or nutrient signaling–induced post-translational modifications. Recently, phosphorylation at Tyr-67 by the FGF15/19 signaling–activated nonreceptor tyrosine kinase Src was shown to be important for FXR function in BA homeostasis. Here, we examined the role of this FXR phosphorylation in cholesterol regulation. In both hepatic FXR-knockout and FXR-knockdown mice, reconstitution of FXR expression up-regulated cholesterol transport genes for its biliary excretion, including scavenger receptor class B member 1 (Scarb1) and ABC subfamily G member 8 (Abcg5/8), decreased hepatic and plasma cholesterol levels, and increased biliary and fecal cholesterol levels. Of note, these sterol-lowering effects were blunted by substitution of Phe for Tyr-67 in FXR. Moreover, consistent with Src’s role in phosphorylating FXR, Src knockdown impaired cholesterol regulation in mice. In hypercholesterolemic apolipoprotein E– deficient mice, expression of FXR, but not Y67F-FXR, ameliorated atherosclerosis, whereas Src down-regulation exacerbated it. Feeding or treatment with an FXR agonist induced Abcg5/8 and Scarb1 expression in WT, but not FGF15-knockout, mice. Furthermore, FGF19 treatment increased occupancy of FXR at Abcg5/8 and Scarb1, expression of these genes, and cholesterol efflux from hepatocytes. These FGF19-mediated effects were blunted by the Y67F-FXR substitution or Src down-regulation or inhibition. We conclude that phosphorylation of hepatic FXR by FGF15/19-induced Src maintains cholesterol homeostasis and protects against atherosclerosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8732-8744
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - May 31 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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