The RNA-binding protein Apobec1 complementation factor (A1CF) regulates posttranscriptional ApoB mRNA editing, but the range of RNA targets and the long-term effect of altered A1CF expression on liver function are unknown. Here we studied hepatocyte-specific A1cf-transgenic (A1cf+/Tg), A1cf+/Tg Apobec1-/-, and A1cf-/- mice fed chow or high-fat/high-fructose diets using RNA-Seq, RNA CLIP-Seq, and tissue microarrays from human hepatocellular cancer (HCC). A1cf+/Tg mice exhibited increased hepatic proliferation and steatosis, with increased lipogenic gene expression (Mogat1, Mogat2, Cidea, Cd36) associated with shifts in polysomal RNA distribution. Aged A1cf+/Tg mice developed spontaneous fibrosis, dysplasia, and HCC, and this development was accelerated on a high-fat/high-fructose diet and was independent of Apobec1. RNA-Seq revealed increased expression of mRNAs involved in oxidative stress (Gstm3, Gpx3, Cbr3), inflammatory response (Il19, Cxcl14, Tnfα, Ly6c), extracellular matrix organization (Mmp2, Col1a1, Col4a1), and proliferation (Kif20a, Mcm2, Mcm4, Mcm6), and a subset of mRNAs (including Sox4, Sox9, Cdh1) were identified in RNA CLIP-Seq. Increased A1CF expression in human HCC correlated with advanced fibrosis and with reduced survival in a subset with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. In conclusion, we show that hepatic A1CF overexpression selectively alters polysomal distribution and mRNA expression, promoting lipogenic, proliferative, and inflammatory pathways leading to HCC.
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