Inhibition of adipocyte differentiation by Nur77, Nurr1, and Nor1

Mol Endocrinol. 2008 Dec;22(12):2596-608. doi: 10.1210/me.2008-0161. Epub 2008 Oct 22.


Members of the nuclear receptor 4A (NR4A) subgroup of nuclear receptors have been implicated in the regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism in insulin-sensitive tissues such as liver and skeletal muscle. However, their function in adipocytes is not well defined. Previous studies have reported that these receptors are rapidly up-regulated after treatment of 3T3-L1 preadipocytes with an adipogenic cocktail. We show here that although Nur77 expression is acutely induced by cAMP agonists in 3T3-L1 cells, it is not induced by other adipogenic stimuli, such as peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma ligands, nor is it induced during the differentiation of 3T3-F442A preadipocytes, suggesting that Nur77 induction is not an obligatory feature of preadipocyte differentiation. We further demonstrate that inflammatory signals that antagonize differentiation, such as TNFalpha and lipopolysaccharide, acutely induce Nur77 expression both in vitro and in vivo. We also show that NR4A expression in adipose tissue is responsive to fasting/refeeding. Retroviral transduction of each of the NR4A receptors (Nur77, Nurr1, and NOR1) into either 3T3-L1 or 3T3-F442A preadipocytes potently inhibits adipogenesis. Interestingly, NR4A-mediated inhibition of adipogenesis cannot be rescued by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma overexpression or activation. Transcriptional profiling of Nur77-expressing preadipocytes led to the identification of gap-junction protein alpha1 (Gja1) and tolloid-like 1 (Tll1) as Nur77-responsive genes. Remarkably, retroviral expression of either Gja1 or Tll1 in 3T3-L1 preadipocytes also inhibited adipocyte differentiation, implicating these genes as potential mediators of Nur77's effects on adipogenesis. Finally, we show that Nur77 expression inhibits mitotic clonal expansion of preadipocytes, providing an additional mechanism by which Nur77 may inhibit adipogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipocytes / physiology
  • Adipogenesis / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Cell Dedifferentiation / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Fasting / metabolism
  • Fasting / physiology
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Obese
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 4, Group A, Member 1
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 4, Group A, Member 2
  • Receptors, Steroid / genetics
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism
  • Receptors, Steroid / physiology*
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone / genetics
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone / metabolism
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transfection


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Nr4a1 protein, mouse
  • Nr4a2 protein, mouse
  • Nr4a3 protein, mouse
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 4, Group A, Member 1
  • Nuclear Receptor Subfamily 4, Group A, Member 2
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • Receptors, Thyroid Hormone
  • Transcription Factors