Adipose stromal cells (ASCs) serve as mesenchymal progenitors in white adipose tissue (WAT). Intercellular interactions involving ASCs have remained obscure. By merging phage display technology with fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS), we screened a combinatorial library for peptides that target mouse ASCs in vivo. We isolated peptide CSWKYWFGEC that specifically homes to ASCs, used it as bait to purify the corresponding ASC surface receptor, and identified it as a previously unreported cleavage product of decorin (DCN) lacking the glycanation site (termed ΔDCN). We demonstrate that ΔDCN is differentially expressed on ASC surface. In a screen for ΔDCN-binding proteins, we identified resistin, an adipokine for which the receptor has been unknown. Expression of ΔDCN in 3T3-L1 cells promoted proliferation and migration but suppressed lipid accumulation upon adipogenesis induction, which was resistin dependent. We conclude that ΔDCN serves as a functional receptor of resistin in adipocyte progenitors and may regulate WAT expansion.
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