Adipose depots possess unique developmental gene signatures

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 May;18(5):872-878. doi: 10.1038/oby.2009.512. Epub 2010 Jan 28.


We have previously demonstrated that subcutaneous and intra-abdominal adipose tissue show different patterns of expression for developmental genes (Shox2, En1, Tbx15 Hoxa5, Hoxc8, and Hoxc9), and that the expression level of Tbx15 and Hoxa5 in humans correlated with the level of obesity and fat distribution. To further explore the role of these developmental genes in adipose tissue, we have characterized their expression in different adipose depots in mice, and studied their regulation in obesity and by fasting. Developmental and adipogenic gene expression was compared in two subcutaneous and three intra-abdominal white adipose tissue (WAT) depots as well as brown adipose tissue (BAT) from lean or obese mice in a fed or fasting state. Each of these six adipose depots display a unique pattern of developmental gene expression, whereas expression of adipogenic transcription factors PPARgamma2 C/EBPalpha, beta, and Delta showed constant expression levels in all depots. Expression levels of developmental genes were similar in obese (ob/ob and high-fat diet (HFD)) and lean mice in most depots. Fasting systematically decreased expression of Hoxc8, PPARgamma2, and increased C/EBPDelta in both lean and ob/ob mice, but produced only variable changes in the expression of other developmental and adipogenic genes. These data indicate that each fat depot has a unique developmental gene expression signature, which is largely independent of nutritional state. This finding further supports a fundamental role of developmental genes in fat distribution and the development and/or function of specific adipose tissue depots.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism*
  • Adipose Tissue, White / metabolism*
  • Adiposity / genetics
  • Animals
  • Fasting / physiology
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Obese
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Random Allocation
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction