Aims: N6-methyladenosine (m6A), the most abundant and conserved epigenetic modification of mRNA, participates in various physiological and pathological processes. However, the roles of m6A modification in liver lipid metabolism have yet to be understood entirely. We aimed to investigate the roles of the m6A “writer” protein methyltransferase-like 3 (Mettl3) in liver lipid metabolism and the underlying mechanisms.

Main Methods: We assessed the expression of Mettl3 in liver tissues of diabetes (db/db) mice, obese (ob/ob) mice, high saturated fat-, cholesterol-, and fructose-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) mice, and alcohol abuse and alcoholism (NIAAA) mice by quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR). Hepatocyte-specific Mettl3 knockout mice were used to evaluate the effects of Mettl3 deficiency in mouse liver. The molecular mechanisms underlying the roles of Mettl3 deletion in liver lipid metabolism were explored by multi-omics joint analysis of public data from the Gene Expression Omnibus database and further validated by qRT-PCR and Western blot.

Key Findings: Significantly decreased Mettl3 expression was associated with NAFLD progression. Hepatocyte-specific knockout of Mettl3 resulted in significant lipid accumulation in the liver, increased serum total cholesterol levels, and progressive liver damage in mice. Mechanistically, loss of Mettl3 significantly downregulated the expression levels of multiple m6A-modified mRNAs related to lipid metabolism, including Adh7, Cpt1a, and Cyp7a1, further promoting lipid metabolism disorders and liver injury in mice.

Significance: In summary, our findings demonstrate that the expression alteration of genes related to lipid metabolism by Mettl3-mediated m6A modification contributes to the development of NAFLD.