Sahay, Khushboo; Department of Physiology (7/26/2018)
      Liver disease is an important health concern and a significant source of morbidity and mortality in the United States and worldwide. NEDD8 (neural-precursor-cell-expressed developmentally down-regulated 8) is a novel ubiquitin-like protein modifier. The conjugation of NEDD8 to target proteins, termed neddylation, requires NEDD8 specific E1, E2 and E3 ligases. Neddylation participates in various cellular processes. However, whether neddylation regulates liver development and function is completely unknown. We created mice with hepatocyte specific deletion of NAE1, a subunit of the only NEDD8 E1 enzyme, and identified that they display severe hepatomegaly, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypercholesterolemia from 10 days after birth. By postnatal 14 days, their liver cytoarchitecture is completely disrupted, along with formation of numerous biliary cysts, fibrosis and hypoglycemia, which ultimately result in liver failure and premature death by 6 weeks. Mechanistically, NAE1 deficiency in hepatocytes caused reduced hepatocytespecific gene expression but increased biliary/oval cell gene expression in liver. In vitro, NAE1 inhibition by MLN4924 and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated NAE1 deletion in HepG2 cells recapitulated in vivo findings with repressed expression of hepatocyte specific genes but elevated biliary/oval cell gene expression. Together, these data highlight an essential role for neddylation in regulating hepatocyte lineage commitment and function as well as polycyst formation through trans/de-differentiation of hepatocytes.