The long-term objective of this project is to understand the mechanisms that distinguish human thermogenic adipocyte metabolism and contribute to metabolic health. During the past funding periods, we have been successful in three significant lines of research, as follows: a, We have developed a model to interrogate human adipose tissue physiological function in vivo in mice. b, We have discovered at least 4 distinct adipocyte subtypes differentiating from human mesenchymal progenitors, associated with specific adipose tissue functions and differentially enriched in human adipose tissue depots, and c, We have discovered LINC00473, a primate-specific long non-coding RNA specifically expressed in thermogenic adipocytes and involved in lipolysis and mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. LINC00473 levels are decreased in obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, consistent with an important physiological role. We will now further elucidate molecular mechanisms by which LINC00473 regulates these pathways and its contribution to systemic energy homeostasis.
Aim 1. To elucidate the mechanism by which LINC00473 interacts with lipid droplet and mitochondrial proteins and the effect of these interactions on fatty acid and mitochondrial oxidative metabolism. Using affinity isolation and mass spectrometry, we have identified lipid droplet and mitochondrial proteins that interact with LINC00473. We will now: 1A. Define direct and indirect interactions between LINC00473 and candidate proteins, using molecular approaches including ChIRP and APEX2 proximity labeling. 1B. Define the kinetics of assembly of LINC00473-protein complexes and their relationship with stimulated lipolysis and respiration, and 1C. Define the role of specific interactions though expression of LINC00473 mutant constructs.
Aim 2. To test the hypothesis that LINC00473 mediates a feedback mechanism to control lipolysis. We shall: 2A. Determine whether inhibition of LINC00473 expression upon PLIN1 depletion is due to enhanced basal lipolysis. 2B. Determine whether impaired stimulation of lipolysis in PLIN1 depleted cells is due LINC00473 supprssion. 2C. Determine whether PLIN1 depletion suppresses LINC00473 through decreased transcription, enhanced degradation or both.
Aim 3. We will test the role of LINC00473 on thermogenic adipose tissue development and systemic glucose metabolism. Using techniques to generate human adipose tissue in mice we shall: 3A. Assess the effects of overexpression or knockdown of LINC00473 on dynamics of adipose tissue growth, vascularization, and innervation. 3B. Determine how adipose tissue developed from adipocytes expressing high or low levels of LINC00473 responds to physiological stimuli such as cold. 3C. Determine whether adipose tissue developed from adipocytes expressing high or low levels of LINC00473 differentially affects systemic glucose metabolism. This work will reveal molecular mechanisms that define human thermogenic adipocyte function, and how these mechanisms operate systemically and could impact metabolic disease.

Public Health Relevance

There is a strong relationship between adipose tissue and the onset of diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease, and one of the most important factor seems to be the type of fat each individual carries. There is a type of fat called ?beige? fat that has the capacity to burn calories and secrete hormones that improve metabolism. Individuals who have more ?beige? fat are protected from developing diabetes and heart disease. The genes responsible for making this type of fat are not known, but our studies find that a one of them is a special gene that doesn?t code for a protein. This gene, called LINC00473, may be an organizer of proteins that help burn fat in the mitochondria. We believe that understanding the function of this gene can help us understand how beige fat forms, and how it functions to improve metabolism. It may also help us recapitulate the beneficial effects if beige fat in ways that can improve health.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Molecular and Cellular Endocrinology Study Section (MCE)
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Haft, Carol R
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University of Massachusetts Medical School Worcester
Anatomy/Cell Biology
Schools of Medicine
United States
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