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Plac8 is required for white adipocyte differentiation in vitro and cell number control in vivo.
Plac8 belongs to an evolutionary conserved family of proteins, mostly abundant in plants where they control fruit weight through regulation of cell number. In mice, Plac8 is expressed both in white and brown adipose tissues and we previously showed that Plac8(-/-) mice develop late-onset obesity, with abnormal brown fat differentiation and reduced thermogenic capacity. We also showed that in brown adipocytes, Plac8 is an upstream regulator of C/EBPβ expression. Here, we first assessed the role of Plac8 in white adipogenesis in vitro. We show that Plac8 is induced early after induction of 3T3-L1 adipocytes differentiation, a process that is prevented by Plac8 knockdown; similarly, embryonic fibroblasts obtained from Plac8 knockout mice failed to form adipocytes upon stimulation of differentiation. Knockdown of Plac8 in 3T3-L1 was associated with reduced expression of C/EBPβ, Krox20, and Klf4, early regulators of the white adipogenic program, and we show that Plac8 could transactivate the C/EBPβ promoter. In vivo, we show that absence of Plac8 led to increased white fat mass with enlarged adipocytes but reduced total number of adipocytes. Finally, even though Plac8(-/-) mice showed impaired thermogenesis due to brown fat dysfunction, this was not associated with changes in glycemia or plasma free fatty acid and triglyceride levels. Collectively, these data indicate that Plac8 is an upstream regulator of C/EBPβ required for adipogenesis in vitro. However, in vivo, Plac8 is dispensable for the differentiation of white adipocytes with preserved fat storage capacity but is required for normal fat cell number regulation.
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