Augmenter of liver regeneration
VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Thomas E. Starzl Transplantation Institute, Departments of Surgery and Pathology, University of Pittsburgh, E-1540 BST, 200 Lothrop street, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213, USA
Fibrogenesis & Tissue Repair 2012, 5:10 doi:10.1186/1755-1536-5-10Published: 9 July 2012
‘Augmenter of liver regeneration’ (ALR) (also known as hepatic stimulatory substance or hepatopoietin) was originally found to promote growth of hepatocytes in the regenerating or injured liver. ALR is expressed ubiquitously in all organs, and exclusively in hepatocytes in the liver. ALR, a survival factor for hepatocytes, exhibits significant homology with ERV1 (essential for respiration and viability) protein that is essential for the survival of the yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. ALR comprises 198 to 205 amino acids (approximately 22 kDa), but is post-translationally modified to three high molecular weight species (approximately 38 to 42 kDa) found in hepatocytes. ALR is present in mitochondria, cytosol, endoplasmic reticulum, and nucleus. Mitochondrial ALR may be involved in oxidative phosphorylation, but also functions as sulfhydryl oxidase and cytochrome c reductase, and causes Fe/S maturation of proteins. ALR, secreted by hepatocytes, stimulates synthesis of TNF-α, IL-6, and nitric oxide in Kupffer cells via a G-protein coupled receptor. While the 22 kDa rat recombinant ALR does not stimulate DNA synthesis in hepatocytes, the short form (15 kDa) of human recombinant ALR was reported to be equipotent as or even stronger than TGF-α or HGF as a mitogen for hepatocytes. Altered serum ALR levels in certain pathological conditions suggest that it may be a diagnostic marker for liver injury/disease. Although ALR appears to have multiple functions, the knowledge of its role in various organs, including the liver, is extremely inadequate, and it is not known whether different ALR species have distinct functions. Future research should provide better understanding of the expression and functions of this enigmatic molecule.