GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Program in Molecular Medicine

First Thesis Advisor

David A. Guertin, Ph.D.


Brown Adipose Tissue, Multiprotein Complexes, TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases, Brown Adipocytes, Lipogenesis, Thermogenesis, Forkhead Box Protein O1, mTORC2


Dissertations, UMMS; Adipose Tissue, Brown; Multiprotein Complexes; TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases; Adipocytes, Brown; Lipogenesis; Thermogenesis; Forkhead Box Protein O1


Recent studies suggest adipose tissue plays a critical role in regulating whole body energy homeostasis in both animals and humans. In particular, activating brown adipose tissue (BAT) activity is now appreciated as a potential therapeutic strategy against obesity and metabolic disease. However, the signaling circuits that coordinate nutrient uptake and BAT function are poorly understood. Here, I investigated the role of the nutrient-sensing mTOR signaling pathway in BAT by conditionally deleting Rictor, which encodes an essential component of mTOR Complex 2 (mTORC2) either in brown adipocyte precursors or mature brown adipocytes. In general, inhibiting BAT mTORC2 reduces glucose uptake and de novo lipogenesis pathways while increases lipid uptake and oxidation pathways indicating a switch in fuel utilization. Moreover, several key thermogenic factors (Ucp1, Pgc1α, and Irf4) are elevated in Rictor-deficient BAT, resulting in enhanced thermogenesis. Accordingly, mice with mTORC2 loss in BAT are protected from HFD-induced obesity and metabolic disease at thermoneutrality. In vitro culture experiments further suggest that mTORC2 cell-autonomously regulates the BAT thermogenic program, especially Ucp1 expression, which depends on FoxO1 activity. Mechanistically, mTORC2 appears to inhibit FoxO1 by facilitating its lysine-acetylation but not through the canonical AKT-mediated phosphorylation pathway. Finally, I also provide evidence that β-adrenergic signaling which normally triggers thermogenesis also induces FoxO1 deacetylation in BAT. Based on these data, I propose a model in which mTORC2 functions in BAT as a critical signaling hub for coordinating nutrient uptake, fuel utilization, and thermogenic gene expression. These data provide a foundation for future studies into the mTORC2-FoxO1 signaling axis in different metabolic tissues and physiological conditions.



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