Genome-wide association studies identified single nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 7 upstream of KLF14 to be associated with metabolic syndrome traits and increased risk for type 2 diabetes (T2D). The associations were more significant in women than in men. The risk allele carriers expressed lower levels of the transcription factor KLF14 in adipose tissues than nonrisk allele carriers. To investigate how adipocyte KLF14 regulates metabolic traits in a sex-dependent manner, we characterized high-fat diet–fed male and female mice with adipocyte-specific Klf14 deletion or overexpression. Klf14 deletion resulted in increased fat mass in female mice and decreased fat mass in male mice. Female Klf14-deficient mice had overall smaller adipocytes in subcutaneous fat depots but larger adipocytes in parametrial depots, indicating a shift in lipid storage from subcutaneous to visceral fat depots. They had reduced metabolic rates and increased respiratory exchange ratios consistent with increased use of carbohydrates as an energy source. Fasting- and isoproterenol-induced adipocyte lipolysis was defective in female Klf14-deficient mice, and concomitantly, adipocyte triglycerides lipase mRNA levels were downregulated. Female Klf14-deficient mice cleared blood triglyceride and nonesterified fatty acid less efficiently than wild-type. Finally, adipocyte-specific overexpression of Klf14 resulted in lower total body fat in female but not male mice. Taken together, consistent with human studies, adipocyte KLF14 deficiency in female but not in male mice causes increased adiposity and redistribution of lipid storage from subcutaneous to visceral adipose tissues. Increasing KLF14 abundance in adipocytes of females with obesity and T2D may provide a novel treatment option to alleviate metabolic abnormalities.

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