SIRT6 Protects Against Liver Fibrosis by Deacetylation and Suppression of SMAD3 in Hepatic Stellate Cells

Xiaolin Zhong, Menghao Huang, Hyeong Geug Kim, Yang Zhang, Kushan Chowdhury, Wenjie Cai, Romil Saxena, Robert F. Schwabe, Suthat Liangpunsakul, X. Charlie Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a chronic liver disease that is manifested clinically by an increase in hepatic triglycerides, inflammation, and fibrosis. The pathogenesis of NASH remains incompletely understood. Sirtuin 6 (Sirt6), a nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide–dependent deacetylase, has been implicated in fatty liver disease; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms in the NASH pathogenesis are elusive. The aims of this study were to elucidate the role of hepatic Sirt6 in NASH. Methods: Wild-type, liver-specific Sirt6 knockout (KO), hepatic stellate cell (HSC)-specific Sirt6 knockout (HSC-KO), and Sirt6 transgenic mice were subjected to a Western diet for 4 weeks. Hepatic phenotypes were characterized and underlying mechanisms were investigated. Results: Remarkably, both the liver-KO and HSC-KO mice developed much worse NASH than the wild-type mice, whereas the transgenic mice were protected from the diet-induced NASH. Our cell signaling analysis showed that Sirt6 negatively regulates the transforming growth factor β–Smad family member 3 (Smad3) pathway. Biochemical analysis showed a physical interaction between Sirt6 and Smad3 in hepatic stellate cells. Moreover, our molecular data further showed that Sirt6 deacetylated Smad3 at key lysine residues K333 and K378, and attenuated its transcriptional activity induced by transforming growth factor β in hepatic stellate cells. Conclusions: Our data suggest that SIRT6 plays a critical role in the protection against NASH development and it may serve as a potential therapeutic target for NASH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)341-364
Number of pages24
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2020


  • Deacetylation
  • Inflammation
  • Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis
  • Sirtuin 6
  • Steatosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology

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