Transgenic mice lacking FGF15/19-SHP phosphorylation display altered bile acids and gut bacteria, promoting nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Young Chae Kim, Ming Qi, Xingchen Dong, Sunmi Seok, Hao Sun, Byron Kemper, Ting Fu, Jongsook Kim Kemper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dysregulated bile acid (BA)/lipid metabolism and gut bacteria dysbiosis are tightly associated with the development of obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The orphan nuclear receptor, Small Heterodimer Partner (SHP/NR0B2), is a key regulator of BA/lipid metabolism, and its gene-regulating function is markedly enhanced by phosphorylation at Thr-58 mediated by a gut hormone, fibroblast growth factor-15/19 (FGF15/19). To investigate the role of this phosphorylation in whole-body energy metabolism, we generated transgenic SHP-T58A knock-in mice. Compared with wild-type (WT) mice, the phosphorylation-defective SHP-T58A mice gained weight more rapidly with decreased energy expenditure and increased lipid/BA levels. This obesity-prone phenotype was associated with the upregulation of lipid/BA synthesis genes and downregulation of lipophagy/β-oxidation genes. Mechanistically, defective SHP phosphorylation selectively impaired its interaction with LRH-1, resulting in de-repression of SHP/LRH-1 target BA/lipid synthesis genes. Remarkably, BA composition and selective gut bacteria which are known to impact obesity, were also altered in these mice. Upon feeding a high-fat diet, fatty liver developed more severely in SHP-T58A mice compared to WT mice. Treatment with antibiotics substantially improved the fatty liver phenotypes in both groups but had greater effects in the T58A mice so that the difference between the groups was largely eliminated. These results demonstrate that defective phosphorylation at a single nuclear receptor residue can impact whole-body energy metabolism by altering BA/lipid metabolism and gut bacteria, promoting complex metabolic disorders like NAFLD. Since posttranslational modifications generally act in gene- and context-specific manners, the FGF15/19-SHP phosphorylation axis may allow more targeted therapy for NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104946
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • FXR
  • bile acid composition
  • gut microbiota
  • lipid metabolism
  • lipophagy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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