Our overall objective is to elucidate the mechanisms that control formation of adipose tissues and to determine whether and how these processes might be harnessed to treat metabolic diseases. Modern life has provided unparalleled access to food supplies, contributing to a worldwide epidemic of obesity and secondary negative health consequences such as diabetes, fatty liver, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. Thus there is an urgent need to better understand the mechanisms and molecules that control formation of adipocytes and the expansion of adipose tissue. Adipose tissue is highly dynamic, expanding and shrinking in response to various homeostatic, pharmacologic and dietary stimuli. That new adipocytes form throughout life indicates the presence of a putative adipogenic stem cell. Yet major barriers to unraveling the adipose stem cell compartment include lack of reagents, tools, and methods to study the adipose stem cell. Under the auspices of this award, we surmounted such issues, and identified the adipose stem cell by designing, engineering, and studying mice that express molecular reporters in the adipose lineage. These tools enable us to visualize adipose stem cells in vivo, to follow their descendents as they divide, migrate and develop into mature adipocytes, and to manipulate gene function with this key stem cell population. What's more, they allowed us to delineate the adipose stem cell niche, the specialized environment in which stem cells reside. The niche controls nearly all aspects of stem cell behavior, and therefore is a key target for new therapies. Indeed we found that the adipose stem cell niche is therpeutically accessible; these data uncovered a remarkable mechanistic advance that underlies this application. The central focus of this proposal is to use our tools to delineate the in vivo functions and molecular characteristics of developing and adult adipose stem cells, and our Preliminary Studies identify novel control mechanisms. We will define these mechanistic underpinnings of the adipose stem cells, we will understand how physiological and pharmacological stimuli regulate the stem population and the growth of adipose tissue, and we will exploit these insights to therapeutic ends. Our studies are designed to elucidate new aspects of adipose biology and metabolic control, highlighting those that are particularly relevant to new therapies for obesity and diabetes.

Public Health Relevance

The ability to regulate fat storage and metabolism are fundamental processes; however, the dual epidemics of obesity and diabetes endanger millions and are altering our health care landscape. This crisis could be addressed by identifying the cells and genes that control formation and expansion of adipose tissue; we identified the adipose stem cell and found that it is important in the normal maintenance of adipose tissue mass and the response to diabetes treatments. Our goal is to unravel the developmental, physiological and molecular mechanisms underlying these effects, which we believe will enhance our understanding of adipocyte biology and metabolism and may lead to novel therapeutic targets for obesity and diabetes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Cellular Aspects of Diabetes and Obesity Study Section (CADO)
Program Officer
Haft, Carol R
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Texas Sw Medical Center Dallas
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Ugrankar, Rupali; Theodoropoulos, Pano; Akdemir, Fatih et al. (2018) Circulating glucose levels inversely correlate with Drosophila larval feeding through insulin signaling and SLC5A11. Commun Biol 1:110
Jiang, Yuwei; Berry, Daniel C; Jo, Ayoung et al. (2017) A PPAR? transcriptional cascade directs adipose progenitor cell-niche interaction and niche expansion. Nat Commun 8:15926
Jiang, Yuwei; Berry, Daniel C; Graff, Jonathan M (2017) Distinct cellular and molecular mechanisms for ?3 adrenergic receptor-induced beige adipocyte formation. Elife 6:
Berry, Daniel C; Jiang, Yuwei; Arpke, Robert W et al. (2017) Cellular Aging Contributes to Failure of Cold-Induced Beige Adipocyte Formation in Old Mice and Humans. Cell Metab 25:166-181
Lapid, Kfir; Graff, Jonathan M (2017) Form(ul)ation of adipocytes by lipids. Adipocyte 6:176-186
Berry, Daniel C; Jiang, Yuwei; Graff, Jonathan M (2016) Emerging Roles of Adipose Progenitor Cells in Tissue Development, Homeostasis, Expansion and Thermogenesis. Trends Endocrinol Metab 27:574-585
Zeve, Daniel; Millay, Douglas P; Seo, Jin et al. (2016) Exercise-Induced Skeletal Muscle Adaptations Alter the Activity of Adipose Progenitor Cells. PLoS One 11:e0152129
Berry, Daniel C; Jiang, Yuwei; Graff, Jonathan M (2016) Mouse strains to study cold-inducible beige progenitors and beige adipocyte formation and function. Nat Commun 7:10184
Ugrankar, Rupali; Berglund, Eric; Akdemir, Fatih et al. (2015) Drosophila glucome screening identifies Ck1alpha as a regulator of mammalian glucose metabolism. Nat Commun 6:7102
Lapid, Kfir; Lim, Ajin; Clegg, Deborah J et al. (2014) Oestrogen signalling in white adipose progenitor cells inhibits differentiation into brown adipose and smooth muscle cells. Nat Commun 5:5196

Showing the most recent 10 out of 21 publications