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Date of Original Version



Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Sciences


The metabolic conversion of cholesterol into bile acids in liver is initiated by the rate-limiting cholesterol 7α-hydroxylase (CYP7A1), whereas the bile salt export pump (BSEP) is responsible for the canalicular secretion of bile acids. Liver receptor homolog 1 (LRH-1) is a key transcriptional factor required for the hepatic expression of CYP7A1. We hypothesized that LRH-1 was also involved in the transcriptional regulation of BSEP. In support of our hypothesis, we found that overexpression of LRH-1 induced, whereas knockdown of LRH-1 decreased, BSEP expression. Consistent with its role in transcriptional regulation, LRH-1 dose-dependently transactivated the BSEP promoter. In addition, such transactivation by LRH-1 was required for maximal induction of BSEP expression through the bile acid/farnesoid X receptor (FXR) activation pathway. Bioinformatic and mutational analysis led to the identification of a functional liver receptor homolog 1-responsive element (LRHRE) in the BSEP promoter. Specific binding of LRH-1 to the LRHRE and recruitment of LRH-1 to the BSEP promoter were demonstrated by electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation assay, respectively. In conclusion, LRH-1 transcriptionally activated the BSEP promoter and functioned as a modulator in bile acid/FXR-mediated BSEP regulation. These results suggest that LRH-1 plays a supporting role to FXR in maintaining hepatic bile acid levels by coordinately regulating CYP7A1 and BSEP for bile acid synthesis and elimination, respectively.