TAp63 is a transcription factor that has been reported to be important for energy and glucose homeostasis. However, where and how TAp63 functions is unclear. Chow-fed mutant mice with TAp63 deleted from pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons showed normal body weight and glucose metabolism in both sex. However, HFD fed male and female mice that lack TAp63 from POMC neurons both showed glucose intolerance (GTT) and insulin resistance independent of body weight. Strikingly, deletion of TAp63 in POMC neurons confers “male-like” diet-induced obesity (DIO) to female mice, but does not affect DIO phenotypes in male mice. In contrast, overexpression of TAp63 in POMC neurons partially prevents DIO in male mice but not in female mice. Here we show that POMC neurons in female mice display higher neural activities and express higher POMC mRNAs compared to male counterparts, and both these enhancements in female POMC neurons are correlated to higher expression levels of TAp63. Further, we found that the deletion of TAp63 reduced POMC neuronal activity and diminished the sexual dimorphism of POMC neural activity by decreasing the responsiveness of ERα-positive POMC neurons to the ERα agonist. Finally, we found that TAp63 binds to the promoter of POMC gene and regulate POMC gene expression in POMC neurons. In addition, the expression of energy homeostasis related genes like SRC-1, ERα and TAp63 target genes Sirt1, AMPKα2, LKB1 were also decreased in mice lacking TAp63 in POMC neurons. Collectively, TAp63 in mature POMC neurons regulates glucose homeostasis and TAp63 is one key molecular driver for the sexual dimorphism in energy homeostasis.
C. Wang: None. Y. He: None. P. Xu: None. Y. Yang: None. Y. Xu: None.