bims-mimbat Biomed News
on Mitochondrial metabolism in brown adipose tissue
Issue of 2022‒07‒10
eighteen papers selected by
José Carlos de Lima-Júnior
University of California San Francisco

  1. Nature. 2022 Jul 05.
      Brown adipose tissue (BAT) dissipates energy1,2 and promotes cardio-metabolic health3. Loss of BAT during obesity and aging is a principal hurdle for BAT-centered obesity therapies, but not much is known about BAT apoptosis. Here, untargeted metabolomics demonstrated that apoptotic brown adipocytes release a specific pattern of metabolites with purine metabolites being highly enriched. Interestingly, this apoptotic secretome enhances expression of the thermogenic program in healthy adipocytes. This effect is mediated by the purine inosine which stimulates energy expenditure (EE) in brown adipocytes via the cAMP/protein kinase A signaling pathway. Treatment of mice with inosine increased BAT-dependent EE and induced "browning" of white adipose tissue. Mechanistically, the equilibrative nucleoside transporter 1 (ENT1, SLC29A1) regulates inosine levels in BAT: ENT1-deficiency increases extracellular inosine levels and consequently enhances thermogenic adipocyte differentiation. In mice, pharmacological inhibition of ENT1 as well as global and adipose-specific ablation enhanced BAT activity and counteracted diet-induced obesity, respectively. In human brown adipocytes, knockdown or blockade of ENT1 increased extracellular inosine, which enhanced thermogenic capacity. Conversely, high ENT1 levels correlated with lower expression of the thermogenic marker UCP1 in human adipose tissues. Finally, the Ile216Thr loss of function mutation in human ENT1 was associated with significantly lower BMI and 59% lower odds of obesity for individuals carrying the Thr variant. Our data identify inosine as a metabolite released during apoptosis with "replace me" signaling function that regulates thermogenic fat and counteracts obesity.
  2. Nat Commun. 2022 Jul 08. 13(1): 3956
      β-Adrenergic signaling is a core regulator of brown adipocyte function stimulating both lipolysis and transcription of thermogenic genes, thereby expanding the capacity for oxidative metabolism. We have used pharmacological inhibitors and a direct activator of lipolysis to acutely modulate the activity of lipases, thereby enabling us to uncover lipolysis-dependent signaling pathways downstream of β-adrenergic signaling in cultured brown adipocytes. Here we show that induction of lipolysis leads to acute induction of several gene programs and is required for transcriptional regulation by β-adrenergic signals. Using machine-learning algorithms to infer causal transcription factors, we show that PPARs are key mediators of lipolysis-induced activation of genes involved in lipid metabolism and thermogenesis. Importantly, however, lipolysis also activates the unfolded protein response and regulates the core circadian transcriptional machinery independently of PPARs. Our results demonstrate that lipolysis generates important metabolic signals that exert profound pleiotropic effects on transcription and function of cultured brown adipocytes.
  3. EMBO J. 2022 Jul 04. e110439
      Brown adipose tissue (BAT) functions as a thermogenic organ and is negatively associated with cardiometabolic diseases. N6 -methyladenosine (m6 A) modulation regulates the fate of stem cells. Here, we show that the prostaglandin E2 (PGE2 )-E-prostanoid receptor 3 (EP3) axis was activated during mouse interscapular BAT development. Disruption of EP3 impaired the browning process during adipocyte differentiation from pre-adipocytes. Brown adipocyte-specific depletion of EP3 compromised interscapular BAT formation and aggravated high-fat diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance in vivo. Mechanistically, activation of EP3 stabilized the Zfp410 mRNA via WTAP-mediated m6 A modification, while knockdown of Zfp410 abolished the EP3-induced enhancement of brown adipogenesis. EP3 prevented ubiquitin-mediated degradation of WTAP by eliminating PKA-mediated ERK1/2 inhibition during brown adipocyte differentiation. Ablation of WTAP in brown adipocytes abrogated the protective effect of EP3 overexpression in high-fat diet-fed mice. Inhibition of EP3 also retarded human embryonic stem cell differentiation into mature brown adipocytes by reducing the WTAP levels. Thus, a conserved PGE2 -EP3 axis promotes BAT development by stabilizing WTAP/Zfp410 signaling in a PKA/ERK1/2-dependent manner.
    Keywords:  E-prostanoid 3 receptor; WTAP; brown pre-adipocytes; differentiation; m6A
  4. J Biochem. 2022 Jul 05. pii: mvac055. [Epub ahead of print]
      Brown and beige adipocytes produce heat and control systemic energy via non-shivering thermogenesis (NST). Historically, thermogenesis in brown and beige adipocytes was thought to be exclusively through a mitochondria-localized protein, uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1). However, recent studies identified UCP1-independent thermogenic mechanisms in adipocytes. Importantly, UCP1-independent pathways significantly contribute to systemic energy and glucose homeostasis. The finding of UCP1-independent mechanisms provided new opportunities to target the pathways in vivo. In this review, we discuss the current understandings of thermogenic mechanisms in adipocytes with a focus on Ca2+ futile cycling.
    Keywords:  beige adipocyte; brown adipocyte; calcium cycling thermogenesis; thermogenic adipocytes; uncoupling protein 1
  5. Cells. 2022 Jun 27. pii: 2038. [Epub ahead of print]11(13):
      Thermogenic brown fat contributes to metabolic health in adult humans. Obese conditions are known to repress adipose-tissue browning and its activity. Herein, we found that chronic fatty acid (FA) depletion induced uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) expression in the chemical-compound-induced brown adipocytes (ciBAs). The ciBAs, converted from human dermal fibroblasts under FA-free conditions, had low intracellular triglyceride levels and strongly activated UCP1 expression. Prolonged treatment with carnitine also reduced triglyceride accumulation and induced UCP1 expression. Transcriptome analysis revealed that the UCP1 induction was accompanied by the activation of lipid metabolic genes. The FA-depleted conditions repressed mitochondrial proton-leak activity and mitochondrial membrane potential (MMP), despite maintaining a high UCP1 expression. The evidence suggested that UCP1 expression was induced to compensate for the proton-leak activity under low MMP. Our study reports a regulatory mechanism underlying UCP1 expression and mitochondrial-energy status in human brown adipocytes under different nutritional conditions.
    Keywords:  human brown adipocytes; lipid metabolism; mitochondria; obesity; transcriptome analysis; uncoupling protein 1
  6. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2022 ;13 864925
      Peripheral nerves allow a bidirectional communication between brain and adipose tissues, and many studies have clearly demonstrated that a loss of the adipose nerve supply results in tissue dysfunction and metabolic dysregulation. Neuroimmune cells closely associate with nerves in many tissues, including subcutaneous white adipose tissue (scWAT). However, in scWAT, their functions beyond degrading norepinephrine in an obese state remain largely unexplored. We previously reported that a myeloid-lineage knockout (KO) of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) resulted in decreased innervation of scWAT, accompanied by an inability to brown scWAT after cold stimulation, and increased adiposity after a high-fat diet. These data underscored that adipose tissue neuroimmune cells support the peripheral nerve supply to adipose and impact the tissue's metabolic functions. We also reported that a subset of myeloid-lineage monocyte/macrophages (Ly6c+CCR2+Cx3cr1+) is recruited to scWAT in response to cold, a process known to increase neurite density in adipose and promote metabolically healthy processes. These cold-induced neuroimmune cells (CINCs) also expressed BDNF. Here we performed RNAseq on CINCs from cold-exposed and room temperature-housed mice, which revealed a striking and coordinated differential expression of numerous genes involved in neuronal function, including neurotrophin signaling and axonal guidance, further supporting that CINCs fulfill a nerve-supporting role in adipose. The increased expression of leukocyte transendothelial migration genes in cold-stimulated CINCs also confirms prior evidence that they are recruited to scWAT and are not tissue resident. We now provide whole-depot imaging of scWAT from LysM-BDNF KO mice, revealing a striking reduction of innervation across the depot fitting with their reduced energy expenditure phenotype. By contrast, Cx3cr1-BDNF KO mice (a macrophage subset of LysM+ cells) exhibited increased thermogenesis and energy expenditure, with compensatory increased food intake and no change in adiposity or body weight. While these KO mice also exhibit a significantly reduced innervation of scWAT, especially around the subiliac lymph node, they displayed an increase in small fiber sympathetic neurite branching, which may underlie their increased thermogenesis. We propose a homeostatic role of scWAT myeloid-lineage neuroimmune cells together in nerve maintenance and neuro-adipose regulation of energy expenditure.
    Keywords:  BDNF; CINCs; adipose neuropathy; cold stimulation; energy expenditure; neural plasticity; neuroimmune; scWAT
  7. Nat Commun. 2022 Jul 07. 13(1): 3775
      Mitofusins reside on the outer mitochondrial membrane and regulate mitochondrial fusion, a physiological process that impacts diverse cellular processes. Mitofusins are activated by conformational changes and subsequently oligomerize to enable mitochondrial fusion. Here, we identify small molecules that directly increase or inhibit mitofusins activity by modulating mitofusin conformations and oligomerization. We use these small molecules to better understand the role of mitofusins activity in mitochondrial fusion, function, and signaling. We find that mitofusin activation increases, whereas mitofusin inhibition decreases mitochondrial fusion and functionality. Remarkably, mitofusin inhibition also induces minority mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization followed by sub-lethal caspase-3/7 activation, which in turn induces DNA damage and upregulates DNA damage response genes. In this context, apoptotic death induced by a second mitochondria-derived activator of caspases (SMAC) mimetic is potentiated by mitofusin inhibition. These data provide mechanistic insights into the function and regulation of mitofusins as well as small molecules to pharmacologically target mitofusins.
  8. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2022 Jun 28. pii: S0006-291X(22)00952-4. [Epub ahead of print]621 1-7
      Hepatic gluconeogenesis is crucial for maintaining blood glucose during starvation, and a major contributor for hyperglycemia. Cellular redox state is related to mitochondrial biology and regulates conversion of specific metabolites to glucose. General control of amino acid synthesis 5 (GCN5) like-1 (GCN5L1) is a mitochondria-enriched protein which modulates glucose and amino acid metabolism. Here we show a new regulatory mode of GCN5L1 on gluconeogenesis using lactate and glycerol. We observed GCN5L1 deletion dramatically inhibited glucose production derived from glycerol and lactate, due to increased cytosolic redox state. The underlying mechanism is that GCN5L1 directly binds to the key component of mitochondrial shuttle glycerol phosphate dehydrogenase 2 (GPD2) and modulates its activity. These results have significant implications for understanding the physiological role and regulatory mechanism of mitochondrial shuttle in diabetes development and provide a novel therapeutic potential for diabetes.
    Keywords:  Cytosolic redox state; GCN5L1; Gluconeogenesis; Glycerol-3-phosphate dehydrogenase 2; Mitochondrial redox state
  9. Nature. 2022 Jul 06.
      Individuals can exhibit differences in metabolism that are caused by the interplay of genetic background, nutritional input, microbiota and other environmental factors1-4. It is difficult to connect differences in metabolism to genomic variation and derive underlying molecular mechanisms in humans, owing to differences in diet and lifestyle, among others. Here we use the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans as a model to study inter-individual variation in metabolism. By comparing three wild strains and the commonly used N2 laboratory strain, we find differences in the abundances of both known metabolites and those that have not to our knowledge been previously described. The latter metabolites include conjugates between 3-hydroxypropionate (3HP) and several amino acids (3HP-AAs), which are much higher in abundance in one of the wild strains. 3HP is an intermediate in the propionate shunt pathway, which is activated when flux through the canonical, vitamin-B12-dependent propionate breakdown pathway is perturbed5. We show that increased accumulation of 3HP-AAs is caused by genetic variation in HPHD-1, for which 3HP is a substrate. Our results suggest that the production of 3HP-AAs represents a 'shunt-within-a-shunt' pathway to accommodate a reduction-of-function allele in hphd-1. This study provides a step towards the development of metabolic network models that capture individual-specific differences of metabolism and more closely represent the diversity that is found in entire species.
  10. Plant Sci. 2022 Jun 29. pii: S0168-9452(22)00189-3. [Epub ahead of print] 111365
      Mitochondrial uncoupling proteins (UCPs) are specialized proteins capable of dissipating the proton electrochemical gradient generated in respiration independent of ATP synthesis. Three UCP coding genes with distinct expression patterns have been identified in Arabidopsis thaliana (namely UCP1, UCP2 and UCP3). Here, we generated T-DNA double-insertion mutants (ucp1 ucp2, ucp1 ucp3 and ucp2 ucp3) to investigate the functionality of the Arabidopsis UCP isoforms. A strong compensatory effect of the wild-type UCP gene was found in the double-knockdown lines. Higher levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were observed in vegetative and reproductive organs of double mutant plants. This exacerbated oxidative stress in plants also increased lipid peroxidation but was not compensated by the activation of the antioxidant system. Alterations in O2 consumption and ADP/ATP ratio were also observed, suggesting a change in mitochondrial energy-generating processes. Deficiencies in double-mutants were not limited to mitochondria and also changed photosynthetic efficiency and redox state. Our results indicate that UCP2 and UCP3 have complementary function with UCP1 in plant reproductive and vegetative organ/tissues, as well as in stress adaptation. The partial redundancy between the UCP isoforms suggests that they could act separately or jointly on mitochondrial homeostasis during A. thaliana development.
    Keywords:  Arabidopsis thaliana; double mutant; mitochondria; uncoupling protein
  11. J Biol Chem. 2022 Jun 29. pii: S0021-9258(22)00658-5. [Epub ahead of print] 102216
      Energy-converting hydrogenases (Ech) are ancient, membrane-bound enzymes that use reduced ferredoxin (Fd) as an electron donor to reduce protons to molecular H2. Experiments with whole cell-, membrane- and vesicle-fractions suggest that this proton reduction is coupled to proton translocation across the cytoplasmatic membrane, but this has never been demonstrated with a purified enzyme. To this end, we produced a His-tagged Ech complex in the thermophilic and anaerobic bacterium Thermoanaerobacter kivui. Using the His-tag, the enzyme could be purified by affinity chromatography from solubilized membranes with full retention of its eight subunits, as well as full retention of physiological activities, i.e., H2-dependent Fd reduction and Fd2--dependent H2 production. We found the purified enzyme contained 34.2 ± 12.2 mol of iron/mol of protein, in accordance with seven predicted [4Fe-4S]-clusters and one [Ni-Fe]-center. The pH and temperature optima were at 7-8 and 66 °C, respectively. Notably, we found that the enzymatic activity was inhibited by N,N'-dicyclohexylcarbodiimide (DCCD), an agent known to bind ion-translocating glutamates or aspartates buried in the cytoplasmic membrane and thereby inhibiting ion transport. To demonstrate the function of the Ech complex in ion transport, we further established a procedure to incorporate the enzyme complex into liposomes in an active state. We show the enzyme did not require Na+ for activity and did not translocate 22Na+ into the proteoliposomal lumen. In contrast, Ech activity led to the generation of a pH gradient and membrane potential across the proteoliposomal membrane, demonstrating that the Ech complex of T. kivui is a H+-translocating, H+-reducing enzyme.
    Keywords:  Thermoanaerobacter kivui; acetogenic metabolism; energy-converting hydrogenase (Ech); extremophile; proteoliposomes; proton translocation
  12. Nat Metab. 2022 Jul 04.
      DNA methylation is a crucial epigenetic modification in the establishment of cell-type-specific characteristics. However, how DNA methylation is selectively reprogrammed at adipocyte-specific loci during adipogenesis remains unclear. Here, we show that the transcription factor, C/EBPδ, and the DNA methylation eraser, TET3, cooperatively control adipocyte differentiation. We perform whole-genome bisulfite sequencing to explore the dynamics and regulatory mechanisms of DNA methylation in adipocyte differentiation. During adipogenesis, DNA methylation selectively decreases at adipocyte-specific loci carrying the C/EBP binding motif, which correlates with the activity of adipogenic promoters and enhancers. Mechanistically, we find that C/EBPδ recruits a DNA methylation eraser, TET3, to catalyse DNA demethylation at the C/EBP binding motif and stimulate the expression of key adipogenic genes. Ectopic expression of TET3 potentiates in vitro and in vivo adipocyte differentiation and recovers downregulated adipogenic potential, which is observed in aged mice and humans. Taken together, our study highlights how targeted reprogramming of DNA methylation through cooperative action of the transcription factor C/EBPδ, and the DNA methylation eraser TET3, controls adipocyte differentiation.
  13. Biochim Biophys Acta Bioenerg. 2022 Jun 30. pii: S0005-2728(22)00056-1. [Epub ahead of print]1863(7): 148587
      Cardiolipin is the signature phospholipid of the mitochondrial inner membrane. It participates in shaping the inner membrane as well as in modulating the activity of many membrane-bound proteins. The acyl chain composition of cardiolipin is finely tuned post-biosynthesis depending on the surrounding phospholipids to produce mature or unsaturated cardiolipin. However, experimental evidence showing that immature and mature cardiolipin are functionally equivalents for mitochondria poses doubts on the relevance of cardiolipin remodeling. In this work, we studied the role of cardiolipin acyl chain composition in mitochondrial bioenergetics, including a detailed bioenergetic profile of yeast mitochondria. Cardiolipin acyl chains were modified by genetic and nutritional manipulation. We found that both the bioenergetic efficiency and osmotic stability of mitochondria are dependent on the unsaturation level of cardiolipin acyl chains. It is proposed that cardiolipin remodeling and, consequently, mature cardiolipins play an important role in mitochondrial inner membrane integrity and functionality.
    Keywords:  Cardiolipin; Linoleic acid; Membrane; Mitochondria; Yeast
  14. Front Microbiol. 2022 ;13 872565
      In FOF1 ATP synthase, driven by the proton motive force across the membrane, the FO motor rotates the central rotor and induces conformational changes in the F1 motor, resulting in ATP synthesis. Recently, many near-atomic resolution structural models have been obtained using cryo-electron microscopy. Despite high resolution, however, static information alone cannot elucidate how and where the protons pass through the FO and how proton passage is coupled to FO rotation. Here, we review theoretical and computational studies based on FO structure models. All-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations elucidated changes in the protonation/deprotonation of glutamate-the protein-carrier residue-during rotation and revealed the protonation states that form the "water wire" required for long-range proton hopping. Coarse-grained MD simulations unveiled a free energy surface based on the protonation state and rotational angle of the rotor. Hybrid Monte Carlo and MD simulations showed how proton transfer is coupled to rotation.
    Keywords:  FO motor; FOF1 ATP synthases; Monte Carlo simulations; coarse-grained model; molecular dynamics simulations
  15. Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2022 Jul 08.
      Mitochondrial energetic adaptations encompass a plethora of conserved processes that maintain cell and organismal fitness and survival in the changing environment by adjusting the respiratory capacity of mitochondria. These mitochondrial responses are governed by general principles of regulatory biology exemplified by changes in gene expression, protein translation, protein complex formation, transmembrane transport, enzymatic activities and metabolite levels. These changes can promote mitochondrial biogenesis and membrane dynamics that in turn support mitochondrial respiration. The main regulatory components of mitochondrial energetic adaptation include: the transcription coactivator peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) coactivator 1α (PGC1α) and associated transcription factors; mTOR and endoplasmic reticulum stress signalling; TOM70-dependent mitochondrial protein import; the cristae remodelling factors, including mitochondrial contact site and cristae organizing system (MICOS) and OPA1; lipid remodelling; and the assembly and metabolite-dependent regulation of respiratory complexes. These adaptive molecular and structural mechanisms increase respiration to maintain basic processes specific to cell types and tissues. Failure to execute these regulatory responses causes cell damage and inflammation or senescence, compromising cell survival and the ability to adapt to energetically demanding conditions. Thus, mitochondrial adaptive cellular processes are important for physiological responses, including to nutrient availability, temperature and physical activity, and their failure leads to diseases associated with mitochondrial dysfunction such as metabolic and age-associated diseases and cancer.
  16. Cell Calcium. 2022 Jun 22. pii: S0143-4160(22)00091-4. [Epub ahead of print]105 102618
      Heart failure (HF) is a leading cause of hospitalization and mortality worldwide. Yet, there is still limited knowledge on the underlying molecular mechanisms, because human tissue for research is scarce, and data obtained in animal models is not directly applicable to humans. Thus, studies of human heart specimen are of particular relevance. Mitochondrial Ca2+ handling is an emerging topic in HF progression because its regulation is central to the energy supply of the heart contractions as well as to avoiding mitochondrial Ca2+ overload and the ensuing cell death induction. Notably, animal studies have already linked impaired mitochondrial Ca2+ transport to the initiation/progression of HF. Mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake is mediated by the Ca2+uniporter (mtCU) that consists of the MCU pore under tight control by the Ca2+-sensing MICU1 and MICU2. The MICU1/MCU protein ratio has been validated as a predictor of the mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake phenotype. We here determined for the first time the protein composition of the mtCU in the human heart. The two regulators MICU1 and MICU2, were elevated in the failing human heart versus non-failing controls, while the MCU density was unchanged. Furthermore, the MICU1/MCU ratio was significantly elevated in the failing human hearts, suggesting altered gating of the MCU by MICU1 and MICU2. Based on a small cohort of patients, the decrease in the cardiac contractile function (ejection fraction) seems to correlate with the increase in MICU1/MCU ratio. Our findings therefore indicate a possible role for adaptive/maladaptive changes in the mtCU composition in the initiation/progression of human HF in humans and point to a potential therapeutic target at the level of the MICU1-dependent regulation of the mtCU.
    Keywords:  HFrEF; Heart failure; Human cardiac biopsy; MICU1; MICU2; Mitochondrial Ca2+ signaling; Mitochondrial calcium uniporter; cardiomyopathy
  17. Annu Rev Cell Dev Biol. 2022 Jul 08.
      Mitochondria are traditionally known as the powerhouse of the cell, but their functions extend far beyond energy production. They are vital in cellular and organismal pathways that direct metabolism, stress responses, immunity, and cellular fate. To accomplish these tasks, mitochondria have established networks of both intra- and extracellular communication. Intracellularly, these communication routes comprise direct contacts between mitochondria and other subcellular components as well as indirect vesicle transport of ions, metabolites, and other intracellular messengers. Extracellularly, mitochondria can induce stress responses or other cellular changes that secrete mitochondrial cytokine (mitokine) factors that can travel between tissues as well as respond to immune challenges from extracellular sources. Here we provide a current perspective on the major routes of communication for mitochondrial signaling, including their mechanisms and physiological impact. We also review the major diseases and age-related disorders associated with defects in these signaling pathways. An understanding of how mitochondrial signaling controls cellular homeostasis will bring greater insight into how dysfunctional mitochondria affect health in disease and aging. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Cell and Developmental Biology Volume 38 is October 2022. Please see for revised estimates.
  18. iScience. 2022 Jul 15. 25(7): 104603
      Uncoupling protein 2 (UCP2), a mitochondrial protein, is known to be upregulated in pancreatic islets of patients with type 2 diabetes (T2DM); however, the pathological significance of this increase in UCP2 expression is unclear. In this study, we highlight the molecular link between the increase in UCP2 expression in β-cells and β-cell failure by using genetically engineered mice and human islets. β-cell-specific UCP2-overexpressing transgenic mice (βUCP2Tg) exhibited glucose intolerance and a reduction in insulin secretion. Decreased mitochondrial function and increased aldolase B (AldB) expression through oxidative-stress-mediated pathway were observed in βUCP2Tg islets. AldB, a glycolytic enzyme, was associated with reduced insulin secretion via mitochondrial dysfunction and impaired calcium release from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Taken together, our findings provide a new mechanism of β-cell dysfunction by UCP2 and AldB. Targeting the UCP2/AldB axis is a promising approach for the recovery of β-cell function.
    Keywords:  Endocrinology; Functional aspects of cell biology; cell biology