Cell Metab. 2023 Dec 8:S1550-4131(23)00421-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2023.11.010. Online ahead of print.
Common genetic variants in glucokinase regulator (GCKR), which encodes GKRP, a regulator of hepatic glucokinase (GCK), influence multiple metabolic traits in genome-wide association studies (GWASs), making GCKR one of the most pleiotropic GWAS loci in the genome. It is unclear why. Prior work has demonstrated that GCKR influences the hepatic cytosolic NADH/NAD+ ratio, also referred to as reductive stress. Here, we demonstrate that reductive stress is sufficient to activate the transcription factor ChREBP and necessary for its activation by the GKRP-GCK interaction, glucose, and ethanol. We show that hepatic reductive stress induces GCKR GWAS traits such as increased hepatic fat, circulating FGF21, and circulating acylglycerol species, which are also influenced by ChREBP. We define the transcriptional signature of hepatic reductive stress and show its upregulation in fatty liver disease and downregulation after bariatric surgery in humans. These findings highlight how a GCKR-reductive stress-ChREBP axis influences multiple human metabolic traits.