An association between impaired fetal growth and the postnatal development of obesity has been established. Here, by comparing adipocytes differentiated from mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) taken from the umbilical cord and derived from normal and growth-restricted neonates, we identified the transcription factor SOX6 as highly expressed only in growth-restricted individuals. We found that SOX6 regulates adipogenesis in vertebrate species by activating adipogenic regulators including PPARγ, C/EBPα and MEST. We further show that SOX6 interacts with β-catenin in adipocytes, suggesting an inhibition of WNT/β-catenin signaling, thereby promoting adipogenesis. The upstream regulatory region of the MEST gene in MSCs from growth-restricted subjects harbors hypomethylated CpGs next to SOX6 binding motifs, and we found that SOX6 binding is impaired by adjacent CpG methylation. In summary, we report that SOX6 is a novel regulator of adipogenesis synergizing with epigenetic mechanisms.
Keywords: Developmental origins; Epigenetics; Fetal growth restriction; Human; Mesenchymal stem cells; Mouse; Obesity; Transcription factor; Zebrafish.
© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.