Barahona, I.; Rada, P.; Calero-Pérez, S.; Grillo-Risco, R.; Pereira, L.; Soler-Vázquez, M. C.; Laiglesia González, Laura María
; Moreno Aliaga, María Jesús
; Herrero, L.; Serra, D.; García-Monzón, C.; González-Rodríguez, A.; Balsinde, J.; García-García, F.; Valdecantos, M. P. (Autor de correspondencia); Valverde, A. M. (Autor de correspondencia)
Activation of oval cells (OCs) has been related to hepatocyte injury during chronic liver diseases including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, OCs plasticity can be affected under pathological environments. We previously found protection against hepatocyte cell death by inhibiting protein tyrosine phosphatase 1B (PTP1B). Herein, we investigated the molecular and cellular processes involved in the lipotoxic susceptibility in OCs expressing or not PTP1B. Palmitic acid (PA) induced apoptotic cell death in wild-type (Ptpn1(+/+)) OCs in parallel to oxidative stress and impaired autophagy. This lipotoxic effect was attenuated in OCs lacking Ptpn1 that showed upregulated antioxidant defences, increased unfolded protein response (UPR) signaling, higher endoplasmic reticulum (ER) content and elevated stearoyl CoA desaturase (Scd1) expression and activity. These effects in Ptpn1(-/-) OCs concurred with an active autophagy, higher mitochondrial efficiency and a molecular signature of starvation, favoring lipid droplet (LD) formation and dynamics. Autophagy blockade in Ptpn1(-/-) OCs reduced Scd1 expression, mitochondrial fitness, LD formation and restored lipoapoptosis, an effect also recapitulated by Scd1 silencing. PTP1B immunostaining was detected in OCs from mouse liver and, importantly, LDs were found in OCs from Ptpn1(-/-) mice with NAFLD. In conclusion, we demonstrated that Ptpn1 deficiency restrains lipoapoptosis in OCs through a metabolic rewiring towards a starvation-like fate, favoring autophagy, mitochondrial fitness and LD formation. Dynamic LD-lysosomal interations likely ensure lipid recycling and, overall, these adaptations protect against lipotoxicity. The identification of LDs in OCs from Ptpn1(-/-) mice with NAFLD opens therapeutic perspectives to ensure OC viability and plasticity under lipotoxic liver damage.