More than 40% of the U.S. population are clinically obese and suffer from metabolic syndrome with an increased risk of postmenopausal estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Adipocytes are the primary component of adipose tissue and are formed through adipogenesis from precursor mesenchymal stem cells. While the major molecular pathways of adipogenesis are understood, little is known about the noncoding RNA signaling networks involved in adipogenesis. Using adipocyte-derived stem cells (ADSCs) isolated from wild-type and microRNA 140 (miR-140) knockout mice, we identify a novel miR-140/long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) NEAT1 signaling network necessary for adipogenesis. miR-140 knockout ADSCs have dramatically decreased adipogenic capabilities associated with downregulation of NEAT1 expression. We identified a miR-140 binding site in NEAT1 and found that mature miR-140 in the nucleus can physically interact with NEAT1, leading to increased NEAT1 expression. We demonstrated that reexpression of NEAT1 in miR-140 knockout ADSCs is sufficient to restore their ability to undergo differentiation. Our results reveal an exciting new noncoding RNA signaling network that regulates adipogenesis and that is a potential new target in the prevention or treatment of obesity.
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