Brown and beige adipocytes dissipate chemical energy as heat through thermogenic respiration, thereby playing important roles in adaptive thermogenesis and energy homeostasis in mice. The Protein Kinase R (PKR)-Like Endoplasmic Reticulum Kinase (PERK) has been shown to be required for mitochondrial thermogenesis in cultured brown adipocytes, and in mice lacking PERK in white and brown adipose tissues. Here, we tested the hypothesis that PERK expression specifically in thermogenic adipocytes is required for adaptive thermogenesis and to regulate energy homeostasis in mice, by selectively deleting PERK in Ucp1-expressing cells (brown and beige adipocytes) of male and female mice. At baseline conditions, mitochondria oxygen consumption rates (OCR) were significantly reduced in brown adipocytes isolated from male, but not from female KO mice. After being housed at thermoneutrality for 7 days (30 °C), wild type (WT) and KO mice were exposed to 4 °C for 3 days. Surprisingly, both male and female KO mice were able to properly adapt to cold exposure, as demonstrated by preserved core body temperatures relative to WT mice. Interestingly, age-induced weight gain, fat mass expansion and impairments in glucose homeostasis were all attenuated in KO males, while weight gain was exacerbated in KO females. This correlated with increased energy expenditure (EE) in male mice, while EE was reduced in female mice. We, next, tested the hypothesis that male KO mice would be resistant to diet-induced obesity. After 12 weeks of high-fat feeding (60% calories from fat), male KO mice became as obese, glucose intolerant and insulin resistant as WT mice. In conclusion, our data suggest that PERK expression in thermogenic adipocytes reduces mitochondrial OCR in male mice, but is dispensable for thermoregulation after short-term cold exposure in both male and female mice. Furthermore, our data reveal a sex-dependent effect of PERK in thermogenic adipocytes in the regulation of energy homeostasis, which is dependent on changes in EE.


J.Jena: None. L.M.García-peña: None. R.Pereira: None.


National Institutes of Health (DK125405, 2T32DK112751-06)

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