Dicer1-miR-328-Bace1 signalling controls brown adipose tissue differentiation and function

Nat Cell Biol. 2016 Mar;18(3):328-36. doi: 10.1038/ncb3316. Epub 2016 Feb 22.


Activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT) controls energy homeostasis in rodents and humans and has emerged as an innovative strategy for the treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Here we show that ageing- and obesity-associated dysfunction of brown fat coincides with global microRNA downregulation due to reduced expression of the microRNA-processing node Dicer1. Consequently, heterozygosity of Dicer1 in BAT aggravated diet-induced-obesity (DIO)-evoked deterioration of glucose metabolism. Analyses of differential microRNA expression during preadipocyte commitment and mouse models of progeria, longevity and DIO identified miR-328 as a regulator of BAT differentiation. Reducing miR-328 blocked preadipocyte commitment, whereas miR-328 overexpression instigated BAT differentiation and impaired muscle progenitor commitment-partly through silencing of the β-secretase Bace1. Loss of Bace1 enhanced brown preadipocyte specification in vitro and was overexpressed in BAT of obese and progeroid mice. In vivo Bace1 inhibition delayed DIO-induced weight gain and improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity. These experiments reveal Dicer1-miR-328-Bace1 signalling as a determinant of BAT function, and highlight the potential of Bace1 inhibition as a therapeutic approach to improve not only neurodegenerative diseases but also ageing- and obesity-associated impairments of BAT function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism*
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / genetics*
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / genetics*
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / genetics*
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Homeostasis / physiology
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Ribonuclease III / genetics*
  • Ribonuclease III / metabolism


  • MIRN328 microRNA, mouse
  • MicroRNAs
  • Dicer1 protein, mouse
  • Ribonuclease III
  • Amyloid Precursor Protein Secretases
  • Aspartic Acid Endopeptidases
  • Bace1 protein, mouse
  • DEAD-box RNA Helicases