BAd-CRISPR: Inducible gene knockout in interscapular brown adipose tissue of adult mice

J Biol Chem. 2021 Dec;297(6):101402. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.101402. Epub 2021 Nov 11.


CRISPR/Cas9 has enabled inducible gene knockout in numerous tissues; however, its use has not been reported in brown adipose tissue (BAT). Here, we developed the brown adipocyte CRISPR (BAd-CRISPR) methodology to rapidly interrogate the function of one or multiple genes. With BAd-CRISPR, an adeno-associated virus (AAV8) expressing a single guide RNA (sgRNA) is administered directly to BAT of mice expressing Cas9 in brown adipocytes. We show that the local administration of AAV8-sgRNA to interscapular BAT of adult mice robustly transduced brown adipocytes and ablated expression of adiponectin, adipose triglyceride lipase, fatty acid synthase, perilipin 1, or stearoyl-CoA desaturase 1 by >90%. Administration of multiple AAV8 sgRNAs led to simultaneous knockout of up to three genes. BAd-CRISPR induced frameshift mutations and suppressed target gene mRNA expression but did not lead to substantial accumulation of off-target mutations in BAT. We used BAd-CRISPR to create an inducible uncoupling protein 1 (Ucp1) knockout mouse to assess the effects of UCP1 loss on adaptive thermogenesis in adult mice. Inducible Ucp1 knockout did not alter core body temperature; however, BAd-CRISPR Ucp1 mice had elevated circulating concentrations of fibroblast growth factor 21 and changes in BAT gene expression consistent with heat production through increased peroxisomal lipid oxidation. Other molecular adaptations predict additional cellular inefficiencies with an increase in both protein synthesis and turnover, and mitochondria with reduced reliance on mitochondrial-encoded gene expression and increased expression of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes. These data suggest that BAd-CRISPR is an efficient tool to speed discoveries in adipose tissue biology.

Keywords: CRISPR/cas; adipocyte; adiponectin; adipose tissue; adipose triglyceride lipase; brown adipose tissue; fatty acid synthase; perilipin; stearoyl CoA desaturase I; uncoupling protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue, Brown / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • CRISPR-Cas Systems*
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / genetics
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors / metabolism
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Uncoupling Protein 1 / genetics
  • Uncoupling Protein 1 / metabolism


  • Ucp1 protein, mouse
  • Uncoupling Protein 1
  • fibroblast growth factor 21
  • Fibroblast Growth Factors