Background: Environmental factors are well-known causes of diseases. However, aside from a handful of risk indicators, genes’ encoding susceptibility to chronic illnesses and their associated environmental triggers are largely unknown. In this era of increasingly rich diets, such genetic predispositions would be immensely helpful from a public health perspective. The novel transgenic mouse model with liver-specific NG37 overexpression characterized in this article identifies the diet-dependent function of NG37 in the pathogenesis of fatty liver disease and cardiac arrhythmia. Results: The liver-specific NG37 overexpression transgenic mouse model described here was generated using the Alb-SV40 polyA expression plasmid backbone. NG37 cDNA under control of the albumin promoter for liver-specific expression was fused with a 5' terminal M2 FLAG sequence and a SV40 early region transcription terminator/polyadenylation site attached at the 3'-UTR. These NG37 transgenic mice developed normally and were physiologically normal on a standard diet. However, in comparison to non-transgenic (nTG) litter mates, these mice develop dramatic phenotypes within 12-18 days of starting a high-fat diet: (i) increased body weight (28.5 ± 12.3 g), (ii) increased liver weight (87.4 ± 35.7 mg), (iii) increased heart weight (140 ± 38.4 mg), and (iv) cardiac arrhythmia. The enlarged livers of high-fat diet NG37 transgenic mice was histologically similar to human fatty liver disease and contained Maltese cross birefringent active depositions in hepatocytes that are indicative of fatty liver disease. We also confirmed via X-ray diffraction the steatotic vesicles in the diseased hepatocytes of our high-fat diet NG37 mice was composed of cholesteryl derivatives also found in human fatty liver disease. In addition to cardiac enlargement, NG37 transgenic mice on high-fat diet also exhibited highly irregular bradycardia not present in either high-fat diet nTG littermates or normal-diet transgenic litter mates. Conclusions: The dramatic high-fat diet-dependent symptoms (increased body weight, cardiac enlargement, fatty liver, and cardiac arrhythmias) characterized in our liver-specific NG37 overexpression mouse model identifies NG37 as a gene encoding latent lipid metabolism pathology induced only in the presence of an environmental factor relevant to human health: high-fat diet.
- Cardiac dysfunction
- Liver enlargement
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism