Human keratin 8 variants promote mouse acetaminophen hepatotoxicity coupled with c-jun amino-terminal kinase activation and protein adduct formation

Nurdan Guldiken, Qin Zhou, Ozlem Kucukoglu, Melanie Rehm, Kateryna Levada, Annika Gross, Raymond Kwan, Laura P. James, Christian Trautwein, M. Bishr Omary, Pavel Strnad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Keratins 8 and 18 (K8/K18) are the intermediate filaments proteins of simple-type digestive epithelia and provide important cytoprotective function. K8/K18 variants predispose humans to chronic liver disease progression and poor outcomes in acute acetaminophen (APAP)-related liver failure. Given that K8 G62C and R341H/R341C are common K8 variants in European and North American populations, we studied their biological significance using transgenic mice. Mice that overexpress the human K8 variants, R341H or R341C, were generated and used together with previously described mice that overexpress wild-type K8 or K8 G62C. Mice were injected with 600 mg/kg of APAP or underwent bile duct ligation (BDL). Livers were evaluated by microarray analysis, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, immunoblotting, histological and immunological staining, and biochemical assays. Under basal conditions, the K8 G62C/R341H/R341C variant-expressing mice did not show an obvious liver phenotype or altered keratin filament distribution, whereas K8 G62C/R341C animals had aberrant disulphide cross-linked keratins. Animals carrying the K8 variants displayed limited gene expression changes, but had lower nicotinamide N-methyl transferase (NNMT) levels and were predisposed to APAP-induced hepatotoxicity. NNMT represents a novel K8/K18-associated protein that becomes up-regulated after K8/K18 transfection. The more pronounced liver damage was accompanied by increased and prolonged JNK activation; elevated APAP protein adducts; K8 hyperphosphorylation at S74/S432 with enhanced keratin solubility; and prominent pericentral keratin network disruption. No differences in APAP serum levels, glutathione, or adenosine triphosphate levels were noted. BDL resulted in similar liver injury and biliary fibrosis in all mouse genotypes. Conclusion: Expression of human K8 variants G62C, R341H, or R341C in mice predisposes to acute APAP hepatotoxicity, thereby providing direct evidence for the importance of these variants in human acute liver failure. (Hepatology 2015) Hepatology 2015;62:876-886).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)876-886
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hepatology


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