Transcriptional effectors of white adipocyte-selective gene expression have not been described. Here we show that TLE3 is a white-selective cofactor that acts reciprocally with the brown-selective cofactor Prdm16 to specify lipid storage and thermogenic gene programs. Occupancy of TLE3 and Prdm16 on certain promoters is mutually exclusive, due to the ability of TLE3 to disrupt the physical interaction between Prdm16 and PPARγ. When expressed at elevated levels in brown fat, TLE3 counters Prdm16, suppressing brown-selective genes and inducing white-selective genes, resulting in impaired fatty acid oxidation and thermogenesis. Conversely, mice lacking TLE3 in adipose tissue show enhanced thermogenesis in inguinal white adipose depots and are protected from age-dependent deterioration of brown adipose tissue function. Our results suggest that the establishment of distinct adipocyte phenotypes with different capacities for thermogenesis and lipid storage is accomplished in part through the cell-type-selective recruitment of TLE3 or Prdm16 to key adipocyte target genes.
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