Control of brown adipose tissue adaptation to nutrient stress by the activin receptor ALK7.
ABSTRACT: Adaptation to nutrient availability is crucial for survival. Upon nutritional stress, such as during prolonged fasting or cold exposure, organisms need to balance the feeding of tissues and the maintenance of body temperature. The mechanisms that regulate the adaptation of brown adipose tissue (BAT), a key organ for non-shivering thermogenesis, to variations in nutritional state are not known. Here we report that specific deletion of the activin receptor ALK7 in BAT resulted in fasting-induced hypothermia due to exaggerated catabolic activity in brown adipocytes. After overnight fasting, BAT lacking ALK7 showed increased expression of genes responsive to nutrient stress, including the upstream regulator KLF15, aminoacid catabolizing enzymes, notably proline dehydrogenase (POX), and adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL), as well as markedly reduced lipid droplet size. In agreement with this, ligand stimulation of ALK7 suppressed POX and KLF15 expression in both mouse and human brown adipocytes. Treatment of mutant mice with the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist RU486 restored KLF15 and POX expression levels in mutant BAT, suggesting that loss of BAT ALK7 results in excessive activation of glucocorticoid signaling upon fasting. These results reveal a novel signaling pathway downstream of ALK7 which regulates the adaptation of BAT to nutrient availability by limiting nutrient stress-induced overactivation of catabolic responses in brown adipocytes.
Project description:OBJECTIVE: Obesity is an enormous burden for patients and health systems world-wide. Brown adipose tissue dissipates energy in response to cold and has been shown to be metabolically active in human adults. The type I transforming growth factor ? (TGF?) receptor Activin receptor-like kinase 7 (Alk7) is highly expressed in adipose tissues and is down-regulated in obese patients. Here, we studied the function of Alk7 in brown adipocytes. METHODS: Using pharmacological and genetic tools, Alk7 signaling pathway and its effects were studied in murine brown adipocytes. Brown adipocyte differentiation and activation was analyzed. RESULTS: Alk7 is highly upregulated during differentiation of brown adipocytes. Interestingly, Alk7 expression is increased by cGMP/protein kinase G (PKG) signaling, which enhances brown adipocyte differentiation. Activin AB effectively activates Alk7 and SMAD3 signaling. Activation of Alk7 in brown preadipocytes suppresses the master adipogenic transcription factor PPAR? and differentiation. Stimulation of Alk7 during late differentiation of brown adipocytes reduces lipid content and adipogenic marker expression but enhances UCP1 expression. CONCLUSIONS: We found a so far unknown crosstalk between cGMP and Alk7 signaling pathways. Tight regulation of Alk7 is required for efficient differentiation of brown adipocytes. Alk7 has differential effects on adipogenic differentiation and the development of the thermogenic program in brown adipocytes.
Project description:Adipocytes possess remarkable adaptive capacity to respond to nutrient excess, fasting or cold exposure, and they are thus an important cell type for the maintenance of proper metabolic health. Although the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is a critical organelle for cellular homeostasis, the mechanisms that mediate adaptation of the ER to metabolic challenges in adipocytes are unclear. Here we show that brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenic function requires an adaptive increase in proteasomal activity to secure cellular protein quality control, and we identify the ER-localized transcription factor nuclear factor erythroid 2-like 1 (Nfe2l1, also known as Nrf1) as a critical driver of this process. We show that cold adaptation induces Nrf1 in BAT to increase proteasomal activity and that this is crucial for maintaining ER homeostasis and cellular integrity, specifically when the cells are in a state of high thermogenic activity. In mice, under thermogenic conditions, brown-adipocyte-specific deletion of Nfe2l1 (Nrf1) resulted in ER stress, tissue inflammation, markedly diminished mitochondrial function and whitening of the BAT. In mouse models of both genetic and dietary obesity, stimulation of proteasomal activity by exogenously expressing Nrf1 or by treatment with the proteasome activator PA28? in BAT resulted in improved insulin sensitivity. In conclusion, Nrf1 emerges as a novel guardian of brown adipocyte function, providing increased proteometabolic quality control for adapting to cold or to obesity.
Project description:Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a specialized thermogenic organ in mammals. The ability of BAT mitochondria to generate heat in response to cold-challenge to maintain core body temperature is essential for organismal survival. While cold activated BAT mitochondrial biogenesis is recognized as critical for thermogenic adaptation, the contribution of mitochondrial quality control to this process remains unclear. Here, we show mitophagy is required for brown adipocyte mitochondrial homeostasis during thermogenic adaptation. Mitophagy is significantly increased in BAT from cold-challenged mice (4?°C) and in ?-agonist treated brown adipocytes. Blockade of mitophagy compromises brown adipocytes mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OX-PHOS) capacity, as well as BAT mitochondrial integrity. Mechanistically, cold-challenge induction of BAT mitophagy is UCP1-dependent. Furthermore, our results indicate that mitophagy coordinates with mitochondrial biogenesis, maintaining activated BAT mitochondrial homeostasis. Collectively, our in vivo and in vitro findings identify mitophagy as critical for brown adipocyte mitochondrial homeostasis during cold adaptation.
Project description:Brown adipose tissue (BAT) activation stimulates energy expenditure in human adults, which makes it an attractive target to combat obesity and related disorders. Recent studies demonstrated a role for G protein-coupled receptor 120 (GPR120) in BAT thermogenesis. Here, we investigated the therapeutic potential of GPR120 agonism and addressed GPR120-mediated signaling in BAT We found that activation of GPR120 by the selective agonist TUG-891 acutely increases fat oxidation and reduces body weight and fat mass in C57Bl/6J mice. These effects coincided with decreased brown adipocyte lipid content and increased nutrient uptake by BAT, confirming increased BAT activity. Consistent with these observations, GPR120 deficiency reduced expression of genes involved in nutrient handling in BAT Stimulation of brown adipocytes in vitro with TUG-891 acutely induced O2 consumption, through GPR120-dependent and GPR120-independent mechanisms. TUG-891 not only stimulated GPR120 signaling resulting in intracellular calcium release, mitochondrial depolarization, and mitochondrial fission, but also activated UCP1. Collectively, these data suggest that activation of brown adipocytes with the GPR120 agonist TUG-891 is a promising strategy to increase lipid combustion and reduce obesity.
Project description:RDH1 is one of the several enzymes that catalyze the first of the two reactions to convert retinol into all-trans-retinoic acid (atRA). Here, we show that Rdh1-null mice fed a low-fat diet gain more weight as adiposity (17% males, 13% females) than wild-type mice by 20 weeks old, despite neither consuming more calories nor decreasing activity. Glucose intolerance and insulin resistance develop following increased adiposity. Despite the increase in white fat pads, epididymal white adipose does not express Rdh1, nor does muscle. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) and liver express Rdh1 at relatively high levels compared to other tissues. Rdh1 ablation lowered body temperatures during ambient conditions. Given the decreased body temperature, we focused on BAT. A lack of differences in BAT adipogenic gene expression between Rdh1-null mice and wild-type mice, including Pparg, Prdm16, Zfp516 and Zfp521, indicated that the phenotype was not driven by brown adipose hyperplasia. Rather, Rdh1 ablation eliminated the increase in BAT atRA that occurs after re-feeding. This disruption of atRA homeostasis increased fatty acid uptake, but attenuated lipolysis in primary brown adipocytes, resulting in increased lipid content and larger lipid droplets. Rdh1 ablation also decreased mitochondrial proteins, including CYCS and UCP1, the mitochondria oxygen consumption rate, and disrupted the mitochondria membrane potential, further reflecting impaired BAT function, resulting in both BAT and white adipose hypertrophy. RNAseq revealed dysregulation of 424 BAT genes in null mice, which segregated predominantly into differences after fasting vs after re-feeding. Exceptions were Rbp4 and Gbp2b, which increased during both dietary conditions. Rbp4 encodes the serum retinol-binding protein-an insulin desensitizer. Gbp2b encodes a GTPase. Because Gbp2b increased several hundred-fold, we overexpressed it in brown adipocytes. This caused a shift to larger lipid droplets, suggesting that GBP2b affects signaling downstream of the ?-adrenergic receptor during basal thermogenesis. Thus, Rdh1-generated atRA in BAT regulates multiple genes that promote BAT adaptation to whole-body energy status, such as fasting and re-feeding. These gene expression changes promote optimum mitochondria function and thermogenesis, limiting adiposity. Attenuation of adiposity and insulin resistance suggests that RDH1 mitigates metabolic syndrome.
Project description:Heterogeneity in the metabolic properties of adipocytes in white adipose tissue has been well documented. We sought to investigate metabolic heterogeneity in adipocytes of brown adipose tissue (BAT), focusing on heterogeneity in nutrient uptake. To explore the possibility of metabolic heterogeneity in brown adipocytes, we used nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS) to quantify uptake of lipids in adipocytes interscapular BAT and perivascular adipose tissue (PVAT) after an intravenous injection of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TRLs) containing [2H]triglycerides (2H-TRLs). The uptake of deuterated lipids into brown adipocytes was quantified by NanoSIMS. We also examined 13C enrichment in brown adipocytes after administering [13C]glucose or 13C-labeled mixed fatty acids by gastric gavage. The uptake of 2H-TRLs-derived lipids into brown adipocytes was heterogeneous, with 2H enrichment in adjacent adipocytes varying by more than fourfold. We also observed substantial heterogeneity in 13C enrichment in adjacent brown adipocytes after administering [13C]glucose or [13C]fatty acids by gastric gavage. The uptake of nutrients by adjacent brown adipocytes within a single depot is variable, suggesting that there is heterogeneity in the metabolic properties of brown adipocytes.
Project description:Hyperplasia of brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a fundamental mechanism for adaptation to survive in the cold environment in rodents. To determine which cell types comprising BAT contribute to tissue hyperplasia, immunohistochemical analysis using a proliferative marker Ki67 was performed on the BAT from 6-week-old C57BL/6J mice housed at 23°C (control) or 10°C (cold) for 5 days. Interestingly, in the control group, the cell proliferative marker Ki67 was detected in the nuclei of uncoupling protein 1-positive mature brown adipocytes (7.2% ± 0.4% of brown adipocyte), as well as in the non-adipocyte stromal-vascular (SV) cells (19.6% ± 2.3% of SV cells), which include preadiopocytes. The percentage of Ki67-positive brown adipocytes increased to 25.6% ± 1.8% at Day 1 after cold exposure and was significantly higher than the non-cold acclimated control until Day 5 (21.8% ± 1.7%). On the other hand, the percentage of Ki67-positive SV cells gradually increased by a cold exposure and peaked to 42.1% ± 8.3% at Day 5. Injection of a ß3-adrenergic receptor (ß3-AR) agonist for continuous 5 days increased the number of Ki67-positive brown adipocytes even at Day 1 but not that of SV cells. In addition, the ß3-AR antagonist, but not ß1-AR antagonist, attenuated the cold exposure-induced increase in the number of Ki67-positive brown adipocytes. These results suggest that mature brown adipocytes proliferate immediately after cold exposure in a ß3-AR-mediated pathway. Thus, proliferation of mature brown adipocytes as well as preadipocytes in SV cells may contribute to cold exposure-induced BAT hyperplasia.
Project description:Brown adipose tissue (BAT) plays a role in energy expenditure and is involved in nutrient metabolism. C-X-C chemokine ligand 12 (CXCL12)-CXCR4 pathway regulates the immune, nervous, and cardiovascular systems and affects the adipose tissue. Here, we investigated the role of this pathway as an activator of BAT. Uncoupling protein 1 mRNA and protein levels and oxygen consumption increased in the brown adipocytes treated with 100?nM CXCL12 peptide. CXCL12-mediated upregulation in P38 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) levels was reduced by each inhibitor. Thus, the CXCL12-CXCR4 pathway activated the brown adipocytes through P38 and ERK that acted downstream of this pathway. Mice with CXCR4 defects only in the brown adipocytes were generated and fed with high-fat diet (HFD). Body weight and blood glucose after glucose injection increased in these mice. Long-term exposure to HFD deteriorated blood glucose level after glucose injection. Insulin sensitivity was exacerbated in the knockout mice fed with HFD. Serum lipid parameters and CXCL12 level in knockout mice were similar to those in control mice. These results suggest that the CXCL12-CXCR4 pathway induces brown adipocyte activity and affects nutrient metabolism under HFD load.
Project description:Brown adipose tissue (BAT), which is composed of thermogenic brown adipocytes (BA) and non-parenchymal components including vasculatures and extracellular matrix, contribute to the maintenance of body temperature. BAT distribution is detected by positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET/CT) using 18F-fluorodeoxy glucose (18F-FDG) or single-photon-emission computed tomography-computed tomography (SPECT/CT) using [123/125I]-beta-methyl-p-iodophenyl-pentadecanoic acid. Although sympathetic nerve activity and thermogenic capacity of BA is downregulated under fasting conditions in mice, fasting-dependent structural changes and fluid kinetics of BAT remain unknown. Here we show that the fasting induces fine and reversible structural changes in the non-parenchymal region in murine BAT with widened intercellular spaces and deformed collagen bands as revealed by electron microscopy. Interestingly, a newly introduced near infrared fluorescent probe of single-walled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) coated with phospholipid polyethylene glycol (PLPEG) easily demonstrated enhanced vascular permeability in BAT by the fasting. PLPEG-CNTs extravasated and remained in intercellular spaces or further redistributed in parenchymal cells in fasted mice, which is a previously unknown phenomenon. Thus, PLPEG-CNTs provide a powerful tool to trace fluid kinetics in sub-tissue levels.
Project description:Aberrant activity of the glucocorticoid (GC)/glucocorticoid receptor (GR) endocrine system has been linked to obesity-related metabolic dysfunction. Traditionally, the GC/GR axis has been believed to play a crucial role in adipose tissue formation and function in both, white (WAT) and brown adipose tissue (BAT). While recent studies have challenged this notion for WAT, the contribution of GC/GR signaling to BAT-dependent energy homeostasis remained unknown. Here, we have generated and characterized a BAT-specific GR-knockout mouse (GRBATKO ), for the first time allowing to genetically interrogate the metabolic impact of BAT-GR. The HPA axis in GRBATKO mice was intact, as was the ability of mice to adapt to cold. BAT-GR was dispensable for the adaptation to fasting-feeding cycles and the development of diet-induced obesity. In obesity, glucose and lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and food intake remained unchanged, aligning with the absence of changes in thermogenic gene expression. Together, we demonstrate that the GR in UCP1-positive BAT adipocytes plays a negligible role in systemic metabolism and BAT function, thereby opposing a long-standing paradigm in the field.