MicroRNA-378 controls classical brown fat expansion to counteract obesity

UMMS Affiliation

Program in Gene Function and Expression; Program in Molecular Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Molecular Biology | Molecular Genetics


Both classical brown adipocytes and brown-like beige adipocytes are considered as promising therapeutic targets for obesity; however, their development, relative importance and functional coordination are not well understood. Here we show that a modest expression of miR-378/378* in adipose tissue specifically increases classical brown fat (BAT) mass, but not white fat (WAT) mass. Remarkably, BAT expansion, rather than miR-378 per se, suppresses formation of beige adipocytes in subcutaneous WAT. Despite this negative feedback, the expanded BAT depot is sufficient to prevent both genetic and high-fat diet-induced obesity. At the molecular level, we find that miR-378 targets phosphodiesterase Pde1b in BAT but not in WAT. Indeed, miR-378 and Pde1b inversely regulate brown adipogenesis in vitro in the absence of phosphodiesterase inhibitor isobutylmethylxanthine. Our work identifies miR-378 as a key regulatory component underlying classical BAT-specific expansion and obesity resistance, and adds novel insights into the physiological crosstalk between BAT and WAT.

DOI of Published Version



Nat Commun. 2014 Aug 22;5:4725. doi: 10.1038/ncomms5725. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Nature communications

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID