Obesity and adipocyte malfunction are related to and arise as consequences of disturbances in signaling pathways. Tyrosine kinase substrate with four Src homology 3 domains (Tks4) is a scaffold protein that establishes a platform for signaling cascade molecules during podosome formation and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling. Several lines of evidence have also suggested that Tks4 has a role in adipocyte biology; however, its roles in the various types of adipocytes at the cellular level and in transcriptional regulation have not been studied. Therefore, we hypothesized that Tks4 functions as an organizing molecule in signaling networks that regulate adipocyte homeostasis. Our aims were to study the white and brown adipose depots of Tks4 knockout (KO) mice using immunohistology and western blotting and to analyze gene expression changes regulated by the white, brown, and beige adipocyte-related transcription factors via a PCR array. Based on morphological differences in the Tks4-KO adipocytes and increased uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression in the white adipose tissue (WAT) of Tks4-KO mice, we concluded that the beigeing process was more robust in the WAT of Tks4-KO mice compared to the wild-type animals. Furthermore, in the Tks4-KO WAT, the expression profile of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARγ)-regulated adipogenesis-related genes was shifted in favor of the appearance of beige-like cells. These results suggest that Tks4 and its downstream signaling partners are novel regulators of adipocyte functions and PPARγ-directed white to beige adipose tissue conversion.
Keywords: Tks4 scaffold protein; WAT browning; adipogenesis; beige adipocytes.