miRNAs are important regulators of biological processes in many tissues, including the differentiation and function of brown and white adipocytes. The endoribonuclease dicer is a major component of the miRNA-processing pathway, and in adipose tissue, levels of dicer have been shown to decrease with age, increase with caloric restriction, and influence stress resistance. Here, we demonstrated that mice with a fat-specific KO of dicer develop a form of lipodystrophy that is characterized by loss of intra-abdominal and subcutaneous white fat, severe insulin resistance, and enlargement and “whitening” of interscapular brown fat. Additionally, KO of dicer in cultured brown preadipocytes promoted a white adipocyte–like phenotype and reduced expression of several miRNAs. Brown preadipocyte whitening was partially reversed by expression of miR-365, a miRNA known to promote brown fat differentiation; however, introduction of other miRNAs, including miR-346 and miR-362, also contributed to reversal of the loss of the dicer phenotype. Interestingly, fat samples from patients with HIV-related lipodystrophy exhibited a substantial downregulation of dicer mRNA expression. Together, these findings indicate the importance of miRNA processing in white and brown adipose tissue determination and provide a potential link between this process and HIV-related lipodystrophy.
Marcelo A. Mori, Thomas Thomou, Jeremie Boucher, Kevin Y. Lee, Susanna Lallukka, Jason K. Kim, Martin Torriani, Hannele Yki-Järvinen, Steven K. Grinspoon, Aaron M. Cypess, C. Ronald Kahn