In the past decade we have witnessed an epidemic of obesity in developed countries. Therefore, understanding the mechanisms involved in regulation of body weight is becoming an increasingly important goal shared by the public and the scientific community. The key to fat deposition is the adipocyte, a specialized cell that plays a critical role in energy balance and appetite regulation. Much of our knowledge of adipogenesis comes from studies using preadipocytic cell lines that have provided important information regarding molecular control of adipocyte differentiation. However, they fall short of revealing how naive cells acquire competence for adipogenesis. Studies in preadipocytes indicate that the Notch pathway plays a role in regulating adipogenesis (Garces et al.: J Biol Chem 272:29729-29734, 1997). Given the known biological functions of Notch in mediating cell fate decisions (Artavanis-Tsakonas et al.: Science 284:770-776, 1999), we wished to test the hypothesis that the Notch pathway is required for this cellular program by examining adipogenesis in several genetic loss-of-function models that encompass the entire pathway. We conclude that the "canonical" Notch signaling pathway is dispensable for adipocyte specification and differentiation from either mesenchymal or epithelial progenitors.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.