Production of glucose by the liver is crucial for maintaining whole-body gluconeogenesis and is dependent on carbon substrates provided by anaplerotic pathways into the TCA cycle. In the liver, the large majority of anaplerotic flux is through the conversion of pyruvate to oxaloacetate by the action of pyruvate carboxylase (PC). To investigate the role of PC in hepatic gluconeogenesis, we produced a liver-specific PC knockout mouse (LPKCO). LPCKO mice have impaired ability to convert pyruvate into glucose. Surprisingly, they display no difference in blood glucose under fed and overnight fasted conditions. LPCKO mice, however, have elevated concentrations of ketone bodies in plasma under both fed and fasted conditions, suggesting a switch from gluconeogenesis to ketogenesis. Additionally, we observed changes in kidney gene expression that suggest a compensatory upregulation of renal gluconeogenesis. Using stable isotope tracers, we analyzed anaplerotic and TCA cycle fluxes in LPCKO livers and found that LPCKO livers are deficient in anaplerotic flux and have a large reduction but not total ablation of hepatic gluconeogenesis. The LPCKO livers also show a significant reduction in TCA cycle turnover and reduced concentrations of several TCA cycle metabolites. On a high-fat diet (HFD), LPCKO mice gain slightly less weight than their non-transgenic littermates. After 12 weeks of HFD the LPCKO mice have significantly lower blood glucose and plasma insulin compared to non-transgenic littermates. When subjected to a glucose tolerance test, HFD-fed LPCKO mice show significantly better glucose tolerance than non-transgenic littermates. Overall, we demonstrate that flux through hepatic PC is required for anaplerosis and TCA cycle function in the liver and that restricting hepatic gluconeogenesis and TCA cycle turnover may help to protect against the deleterious metabolic effects of high fat diet.


D. Cappel: None. S. Deja: None. X. Fu: None. S.C. Burgess: None.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. More information is available at