The lab of Jonathan Hall (ETH Zurich) in collaboration with the group of Carlo Catapano (IOR Bellinzona) inhibited the RNA binding proteins Lin28 with a small molecule with drug like properties, and could show that their inihibtion promotes in the liver ketogenesis and reduces lipogenesis. This inhibition prevented lipid accumulation in several models of hepatic steatosis. Their findings were published in Nature Communications in the article " Pharmacological inhibition of Lin28 promotes ketogenesis and restores lipid homeostasis in models of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease ".
Lin28 RNA-binding proteins are stem-cell factors that play key roles in development. Lin28 suppresses the biogenesis of let-7 microRNAs and regulates mRNA translation. Notably, let-7 inhibits Lin28, establishing a double-negative feedback loop. The Lin28/let-7 axis resides at the interface of metabolic reprogramming and oncogenesis and is therefore a potential target for several diseases. In this study, we use compound-C1632, a drug-like Lin28 inhibitor, and show that the Lin28/let-7 axis regulates the balance between ketogenesis and lipogenesis in liver cells. Hence, Lin28 inhibition activates synthesis and secretion of ketone bodies whilst suppressing lipogenesis. This occurs at least partly via let-7-mediated inhibition of nuclear receptor co-repressor 1, which releases ketogenesis gene expression mediated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha. In this way, small-molecule Lin28 inhibition protects against lipid accumulation in multiple cellular and male mouse models of hepatic steatosis. Overall, this study highlights Lin28 inhibitors as candidates for the treatment of hepatic disorders of abnormal lipid deposition.