Nuclear receptors can be activated by chemicals, metabolites, hormones or environmental compounds to regulate gene expression. Bioassay-guided screening of mouse tissue extracts found that natural fatty acids of a certain carbon length and level of unsaturation could activate the mouse orphan nuclear receptor, testicular orphan receptor 4 (TR4).

Subsequent experiments focused on gamma-linoleic acid, a compound identified during screening of mouse tissues that exerts regulatory activity in TR4 transactivation assays. gamma-linoleic acid positively modulates TR4 activity to promote the expression of downstream genes such as apolipoprotein E (ApoE) and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, and to activate a reporter carrying direct repeat 1 from the ApoE promoter. It also induced the interaction of TR4 with transcription coregulators such as RIP140 and PCAF. Comparisons of transactivation by TR4 and the metabolism-related peroxisome proliferator-activated nuclear receptors indicate that gamma-linoleic acid regulation is specific to TR4.

The data suggest that TR4 might exert its physiological function by sensing certain lipids. Identifying these compounds could be useful for examining the physiological pathways in which TR4 and its target genes are involved.

PMID: 19800043

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