Cold and other environmental factors induce "browning" of white fat depots-development of beige adipocytes with morphological and functional resemblance to brown fat. Similar to brown fat, beige adipocytes are assumed to express mitochondrial uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) and are thermogenic due to the UCP1-mediated H+ leak across the inner mitochondrial membrane. However, this assumption has never been tested directly. Herein we patch clamped the inner mitochondrial membrane of beige and brown fat to provide a direct comparison of their thermogenic H+ leak (IH). All inguinal beige adipocytes had robust UCP1-dependent IH comparable to brown fat, but it was about three times less sensitive to purine nucleotide inhibition. Strikingly, only ∼15% of epididymal beige adipocytes had IH, while in the rest UCP1-dependent IH was undetectable. Despite the absence of UCP1 in the majority of epididymal beige adipocytes, these cells employ prominent creatine cycling as a UCP1-independent thermogenic mechanism.
Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.