Adipose thermogenesis is repressed in obesity, reducing the homeostatic capacity to compensate for chronic overnutrition. Inflammation inhibits adipose thermogenesis, but little is known about how this occurs. Here we show that the innate immune transcription factor IRF3 is a strong repressor of thermogenic gene expression and oxygen consumption in adipocytes. IRF3 achieves this by driving expression of the ubiquitin-like modifier ISG15, which becomes covalently attached to glycolytic enzymes, thus reducing their function and decreasing lactate production. Lactate repletion is able to restore thermogenic gene expression, even when the IRF3-ISG15 axis is activated. Mice lacking ISG15 phenocopy mice lacking IRF3 in adipocytes, as both have elevated energy expenditure and are resistant to diet-induced obesity. These studies provide a deep mechanistic understanding of how the chronic inflammatory milieu of adipose tissue in obesity prevents thermogenic compensation for overnutrition.
Shuai Yan, Manju Kumari, Haopeng Xiao, Christopher Jacobs, Shihab Kochumon, Mark Jedrychowski, Edward Chouchani, Rasheed Ahmad, Evan D. Rosen