LincRNA H19 protects from dietary obesity by constraining expression of monoallelic genes in brown fat

Nat Commun. 2018 Sep 6;9(1):3622. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-05933-8.


Increasing brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis in mice and humans improves metabolic health and understanding BAT function is of interest for novel approaches to counteract obesity. The role of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) in these processes remains elusive. We observed maternally expressed, imprinted lncRNA H19 increased upon cold-activation and decreased in obesity in BAT. Inverse correlations of H19 with BMI were also observed in humans. H19 overexpression promoted, while silencing of H19 impaired adipogenesis, oxidative metabolism and mitochondrial respiration in brown but not white adipocytes. In vivo, H19 overexpression protected against DIO, improved insulin sensitivity and mitochondrial biogenesis, whereas fat H19 loss sensitized towards HFD weight gains. Strikingly, paternally expressed genes (PEG) were largely absent from BAT and we demonstrated that H19 recruits PEG-inactivating H19-MBD1 complexes and acts as BAT-selective PEG gatekeeper. This has implications for our understanding how monoallelic gene expression affects metabolism in rodents and, potentially, humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / pathology
  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / physiology*
  • Adipose Tissue, White / physiology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Animals
  • Diet, High-Fat / adverse effects
  • Energy Metabolism / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genomic Imprinting*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / genetics*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*


  • H19 long non-coding RNA
  • RNA, Long Noncoding