Endocrinology and Metabolism

The Wnt signaling pathway effector TCF7L2 is upregulated by insulin and represses hepatic gluconeogenesis

Wilfred Ip, Weijuan Shao, Yu-ting Alex Chiang, Tianru Jin


Certain single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in transcription factor 7-like 2 (TCF7L2) are strongly associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes. TCF7L2 and β-catenin (β-cat) form the bipartite transcription factor cat/TCF in stimulating Wnt target gene expression. cat/TCF may also mediate the effect of other signaling cascades, including that of cAMP and insulin in cell-type specific manners. As carriers of TCF7L2 type 2 diabetes risk SNPs demonstrated increased hepatic glucose production, we aimed to determine whether TCF7L2 expression is regulated by nutrient availability and whether TCF7L2 and Wnt regulate hepatic gluconeogenesis. We examined hepatic Wnt activity in the TOPGAL transgenic mouse, assessed hepatic TCF7L2 expression in mice upon feeding, determined the effect of insulin on TCF7L2 expression and β-cat Ser675 phosphorylation, and investigated the effect of Wnt activation and TCF7L2 knockdown on gluconeogenic gene expression and glucose production in hepatocytes. Wnt activity was observed in pericentral hepatocytes in the TOPGAL mouse, whereas TCF7L2 expression was detected in human and mouse hepatocytes. Insulin and feeding stimulated hepatic TCF7L2 expression in vitro and in vivo, respectively. In addition, insulin activated β-cat Ser675 phosphorylation. Wnt activation by intraperitoneal lithium injection repressed hepatic gluconeogenic gene expression in vivo, whereas lithium or Wnt-3a reduced gluconeogenic gene expression and glucose production in hepatic cells in vitro. Small interfering RNA-mediated TCF7L2 knockdown increased glucose production and gluconeogenic gene expression in cultured hepatocytes. These observations suggest that Wnt signaling and TCF7L2 are negative regulators of hepatic gluconeogenesis, and TCF7L2 is among the downstream effectors of insulin in hepatocytes.

  • transcription factor 7-like 2
  • β-catenin
  • glucose production
  • liver
  • phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase
  • Wnt-3a
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