The transcriptional basis of adipocyte development

Authors: Rosen ED

Adipogenesis is the developmental process by which a multipotent mesenchymal stem cell differentiates into a mature adipocyte. This process involves a highly regulated and coordinated cascade of transcription factors that together lead to the establishment of the differentiated state. In the presence of the correct hormonal cues, committed pre-adipocytes express the bZIP factors C/EBPb and C/EBPd. These factors in turn induce the expression of C/EBPa and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor g (PPARg). C/EBPa and PPARg together promote differentiation by activating adipose-specific gene expression and by maintaining each others expression at high levels. We have investigated the relative contributions of PPARg and C/EBPa to adipogenesis by selectively ablating these genes in mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs). MEFs that lack C/EBPa are able to undergo adipogenesis, but only when PPARg is ectopically expressed. Interestingly, these cells are not sensitive to the metabolic actions of insulin. By way of contrast, cells that lack PPARg are utterly incapable of adipogenic conversion, even when supplemented with high levels of C/EBPa. Our current investigations are centered on the identification of novel adipogenic transcription factors, utilizing a variety of techniques, ranging from BAC transgenics to computational approaches. These approaches will be discussed, along with the roles of some new transcriptional players in adipogenesis, including the O/E family of proteins.

Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2005 Jul;73(1):31-4.