Ebf2 is a selective marker of brown and beige adipogenic precursor cells

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Wenshan WangPatrick Seale

Abstract

Brown adipocytes and muscle and dorsal dermis descend from precursor cells in the dermomyotome, but the factors that regulate commitment to the brown adipose lineage are unknown. Here, we prospectively isolated and determined the molecular profile of embryonic brown preadipose cells. Brown adipogenic precursor activity in embryos was confined to platelet-derived growth factor α(+), myogenic factor 5(Cre)-lineage-marked cells. RNA-sequence analysis identified early B-cell factor 2 (Ebf2) as one of the most selectively expressed genes in this cell fraction. Importantly, Ebf2-expressing cells purified from Ebf2(GFP) embryos or brown fat tissue did not express myoblast or dermal cell markers and uniformly differentiated into brown adipocytes. Interestingly, Ebf2-expressing cells from white fat tissue in adult animals differentiated into brown-like (or beige) adipocytes. Loss of Ebf2 in brown preadipose cells reduced the expression levels of brown preadipose-signature genes, whereas ectopic Ebf2 expression in myoblasts activated brown preadipose-specific genes. Altogether, these results indicate that Ebf2 specifically marks and regulates the molecular profile of brown preadipose cells.

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