TMEM18 is the strongest candidate for childhood obesity identified from GWASs, yet as for most GWAS-derived obesity-susceptibility genes, the functional mechanism remains elusive. We here investigate the relevance of TMEM18 for adipose tissue development and obesity. We demonstrate that adipocyte TMEM18 expression is downregulated in children with obesity. Functionally, downregulation of TMEM18 impairs adipocyte formation in zebrafish and in human preadipocytes, indicating that TMEM18 is important for adipocyte differentiation in vivo and in vitro. On the molecular level, TMEM1 8 activates PPARG, particularly upregulating PPARG1 promoter activity, and this activation is repressed by inflammatory stimuli. The relationship between TMEM18 and PPARG1 is also evident in adipocytes of children and is clinically associated with obesity and adipocyte hypertrophy, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Our findings indicate a role of TMEM18 as an upstream regulator of PPARG signaling driving healthy adipogenesis, which is dysregulated with adipose tissue dysfunction and obesity.
Institute(s)Helmholtz Institute for Metabolism, Obesity and Vascular Research (HI-MAG)
GrantsEuropean Regional Development Fund LIFE (Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases, University of Leipzig) - Free State of Saxony LIFE (Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases, University of Leipzig) - European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) LIFE (Leipzig Research Center for Civilization Diseases, University of Leipzig) - European Union University of Leipzig Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)