Prdm16 is a transcription factor that regulates the thermogenic gene program in brown and beige adipocytes. However, whether Prdm16 is required for the development or physiological function of brown adipose tissue (BAT) in vivo has been unclear. By analyzing mice that selectively lacked Prdm16 in the brown adipose lineage, we found that Prdm16 was dispensable for embryonic BAT development. However, Prdm16 was required in young mice to suppress the expression of white-fat-selective genes in BAT through recruitment of the histone methyltransferase Ehmt1. Additionally, Prdm16 deficiency caused a severe adult-onset decline in the thermogenic character of interscapular BAT. This resulted in BAT dysfunction and cold sensitivity but did not predispose the animals to obesity. Interestingly, the loss of brown fat identity due to ablation of Prdm16 was accelerated by concurrent deletion of the closely related Prdm3 gene. Together, these results show that Prdm16 and Prdm3 control postnatal BAT identity and function.
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