LIM-only protein FHL2 is a positive regulator of liver X receptors in smooth muscle cells involved in lipid homeostasis

Kondababu Kurakula, Daniela Sommer, Milka Sokolovic, Perry D. Moerland, Saskia Scheij, Pieter B. van Loenen, Duco S. Koenis, Noam Zelcer, Claudia M. van Tiel, Carlie J.M. de Vries

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21 Citations (Scopus)


The LIM-only protein FHL2 is expressed in smooth muscle cells (SMCs) and inhibits SMC-rich-lesion formation. To further elucidate the role of FHL2 in SMCs, we compared the transcriptomes of SMCs derived from wild-type (WT) and FHL2 knockout (KO) mice. This revealed that in addition to the previously recognized involvement of FHL2 in SMC proliferation, the cholesterol synthesis and liver X receptor (LXR) pathways are altered in the absence of FHL2. Using coimmunoprecipitation experiments, we found that FHL2 interacts with the two LXR isoforms, LXRα and LXRβ. Furthermore, FHL2 strongly enhances transcriptional activity of LXR element (LXRE)-containing reporter constructs. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments on the ABCG1 promoter revealed that FHL2 enhances the association of LXRβ with DNA. In line with these observations, we observed reduced basal transcriptional LXR activity in FHL2-KO SMCs compared to WT SMCs. This was also reflected in reduced expression of LXR target genes in intact aorta and aortic SMCs of FHL2-KO mice. Functionally, the absence of FHL2 resulted in attenuated cholesterol efflux to both ApoA-1 and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), in agreement with reduced LXR signaling. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that FHL2 is a transcriptional coactivator of LXRs and points toward FHL2 being an important determinant of cholesterol metabolism in SMCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)52-62
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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