EHMT1 controls brown adipose cell fate and thermogenesis through the PRDM16 complex.

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Ohno, H., Shinoda, K., Ohyama, K., Sharp, L.Z. & Kajimura, S.
Publication Date: 
Wed, 2013-11-06
UCSF Diabetes Center, Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, University of California, San Francisco, 35 Medical Center Way, San Francisco, California 94143-0669, USA.
Brown adipose tissue (BAT) dissipates chemical energy in the form of heat as a defence against hypothermia and obesity. Current evidence indicates that brown adipocytes arise from Myf51 dermo- tomal precursors through the action of PR domain containing protein 16 (PRDM16) transcriptional complex1,2. However, the enzy- matic component of the molecular switch that determines lineage specification of brown adipocytes remains unknown. Here we show that euchromatic histone-lysine N-methyltransferase 1 (EHMT1) is an essential BAT-enriched lysine methyltransferase in the PRDM16 transcriptional complex and controls brown adipose cell fate. Loss of EHMT1 in brown adipocytes causes a severe loss of brown fat characteristics and induces muscle differentiation in vivo through demethylation of histone 3 lysine 9 (H3K9me2 and 3) of the muscle- selective gene promoters. Conversely, EHMT1 expression positively regulates the BAT-selective thermogenic program by stabilizing the PRDM16 protein. Notably, adipose-specific deletion of EHMT1 leads to a marked reduction of BAT-mediated adaptive thermogen- esis, obesity and systemic insulin resistance. These data indicate that EHMT1 is an essential enzymatic switch that controls brown adip- ose cell fate and energy homeostasis.