Adipocytes arise from the commitment and differentiation of adipose precursors in white adipose tissue (WAT). In studying adipogenesis, precursor markers, including Pref-1 and PDGFRα, are used to isolate precursors from stromal vascular fractions of WAT, but the relation among the markers is not known. Here, we used the Pref-1 promoter-rtTA system in mice for labeling Pref-1+ cells and for inducible inactivation of the Pref-1 target Sox9. We show the requirement of Sox9 for the maintenance of Pref-1+ proliferative, early precursors. Upon Sox9 inactivation, these Pref-1+ cells become PDGFRα+ cells that express early adipogenic markers. Thus, we show that Pref-1+ cells precede PDGFRα+ cells in the adipogenic pathway and that Sox9 inactivation is required for WAT growth and expansion. Furthermore, we show that in maintaining early adipose precursors, Sox9 activates Meis1, which prevents adipogenic differentiation. Our study also demonstrates the Pref-1 promoter-rtTA system for inducible gene inactivation in early adipose precursor populations.
Keywords: Meis1; PDGFRα; Pref-1; Sox9; adipocyte differentiation; adipose precursors.
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