EBF2 promotes the recruitment of beige adipocytes in white adipose tissue

Mol Metab. 2015 Nov 14;5(1):57-65. doi: 10.1016/j.molmet.2015.11.001. eCollection 2016 Jan.


Objective: The induction of beige/brite adipose cells in white adipose tissue (WAT) is associated with protection against high fat diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance in animals. The helix-loop-helix transcription factor Early B-Cell Factor-2 (EBF2) regulates brown adipose tissue development. Here, we asked if EBF2 regulates beige fat cell biogenesis and protects animals against obesity.

Methods: In addition to primary cell culture studies, we used ​Ebf2 knockout mice and mice overexpressing EBF2 in the adipose tissue to study the necessity and sufficiency of EBF2 to induce beiging in vivo.

Results: We found that EBF2 is required for beige adipocyte development in mice. Subcutaneous WAT or primary adipose cell cultures from Ebf2 knockout mice did not induce Uncoupling Protein 1 (UCP1) or a thermogenic program following adrenergic stimulation. Conversely, over-expression of EBF2 in adipocyte cultures induced UCP1 expression and a brown-like/beige fat-selective differentiation program. Transgenic expression of Ebf2 in adipose tissues robustly stimulated beige adipocyte development in the WAT of mice, even while housed at thermoneutrality. EBF2 overexpression was sufficient to increase mitochondrial function in WAT and protect animals against high fat diet-induced weight gain.

Conclusions: Taken together, our results demonstrate that EBF2 controls the beiging process and suggest that activation of EBF2 in WAT could be used to reduce obesity.

Keywords: BAT, brown adipose tissue; Beige fat; Brown fat; EBF2; HFD, high fat diet; Obesity; RT, room temperature; TG, transgenic; TN, thermoneutrality; Thermogenesis; WAT, white adipose tissue; WT, wild type; epiWAT, epididymal white adipose tissue; ingWAT, inguinal white adipose tissue.