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OBJECTIVE: Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is critical for thermogenesis and glucose/lipid homeostasis. Exploiting the energy uncoupling capacity of BAT may reveal targets for obesity therapies. This exploitation requires a greater understanding of the transcriptional mechanisms underlying BAT function. One potential regulator of BAT is the transcriptional co-regulator LIM domain-binding protein 1 (LDB1), which acts as a dimerized scaffold, allowing for the assembly of transcriptional complexes. Utilizing a global LDB1 heterozygous mouse model, we recently reported that LDB1 might have novel roles in regulating BAT function. However, direct evidence for the LDB1 regulation of BAT thermogenesis and substrate utilization has not been elucidated. We hypothesize that brown adipocyte-expressed LDB1 is required for BAT function. METHODS: LDB1-deficient primary cells and brown adipocyte cell lines were assessed via qRT-PCR and western blotting for altered mRNA and protein levels to define the brown adipose-specific roles. We conducted chromatin immunoprecipitation with primary BAT tissue and immortalized cell lines. Potential transcriptional partners of LDB1 were revealed by conducting LIM factor surveys via qRT-PCR in mouse and human brown adipocytes. We developed a Ucp1-Cre-driven LDB1-deficiency mouse model, termed Ldb1ΔBAT, to test LDB1 function in vivo. Glucose tolerance and uptake were assessed at thermoneutrality via intraperitoneal glucose challenge and glucose tracer studies. Insulin tolerance was measured at thermoneutrality and after stimulation with cold or the administration of the β3-adrenergic receptor (β3-AR) agonist CL316,243. Additionally, we analyzed plasma insulin via ELISA and insulin signaling via western blotting. Lipid metabolism was evaluated via BAT weight, histology, lipid droplet morphometry, and the examination of lipid-associated mRNA. Finally, energy expenditure and cold tolerance were evaluated via indirect calorimetry and cold challenges. RESULTS: Reducing Ldb1 in vitro and in vivo resulted in altered BAT-selective mRNA, including Ucp1, Elovl3, and Dio2. In addition, there was reduced Ucp1 induction in vitro. Impacts on gene expression may be due, in part, to LDB1 occupying Ucp1 upstream regulatory domains. We also identified BAT-expressed LIM-domain factors Lmo2, Lmo4, and Lhx8, which may partner with LDB1 to mediate activity in brown adipocytes. Additionally, we observed LDB1 enrichment in human brown adipose. In vivo analysis revealed LDB1 is required for whole-body glucose and insulin tolerance, in part through reduced glucose uptake into BAT. In Ldb1ΔBAT tissue, we found significant alterations in insulin-signaling effectors. An assessment of brown adipocyte morphology and lipid droplet size revealed larger and more unilocular brown adipocytes in Ldb1ΔBAT mice, particularly after a cold challenge. Alterations in lipid handling were further supported by reductions in mRNA associated with fatty acid oxidation and mitochondrial respiration. Finally, LDB1 is required for energy expenditure and cold tolerance in both male and female mice. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings support LDB1 as a regulator of BAT function. Furthermore, given LDB1 enrichment in human brown adipose, this co-regulator may have conserved roles in human BAT.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Metab

Publication Date





Brown adipocyte, Glucose, LDB1, Lipid, Thermogenesis, Transcriptional co-regulator, Ucp1