Hepatocyte nuclear factors-3 (Foxa-1–3) are winged forkhead transcription factors that regulate gene expression in the liver and pancreatic islets and are required for normal metabolism. Here we show that Foxa-2 is expressed in preadipocytes and induced de novo in adipocytes of genetic and diet-induced rodent models of obesity. In preadipocytes Foxa-2 inhibits adipocyte differentiation by activating transcription of the Pref-1 gene. Foxa-2 and Pref-1 expression can be enhanced in primary preadipocytes by growth hormone, suggesting that the antiadipogenic activity of growth hormone is mediated by Foxa-2. In differentiated adipocytes Foxa-2 expression leads to induction of gene expression involved in glucose and fat metabolism, including glucose transporter-4, hexokinase-2, muscle-pyruvate kinase, hormone-sensitive lipase, and uncoupling proteins-2 and -3. Diet-induced obese mice with haploinsufficiency in Foxa-2 (Foxa-2+/–) develop increased adiposity compared with wild-type littermates as a result of decreased energy expenditure. Furthermore, adipocytes of these Foxa-2+/– mice exhibit defects in glucose uptake and metabolism. These data suggest that Foxa-2 plays an important role as a physiological regulator of adipocyte differentiation and metabolism.


Christian Wolfrum, David Q. Shih, Satoru Kuwajima, Andrew W. Norris, C. Ronald Kahn, Markus Stoffel


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