Brown adipose tissue (BAT) and stimulating adaptive thermogenesis have been implicated as anti-obese and anti-diabetic tissues due to their ability to dissipate energy as heat by the expression of UCP1. We have recently demonstrated that TRB3 impairs differentiation of brown preadipocytes via inhibiting insulin signaling. However, the roles of the protein in BAT function and thermogenesis in vivo have not yet been established. For this study we tested the hypothesis that TRB3 mediates obesity- and diabetes-induced impairments in BAT differentiation and function, and that inhibition of TRB3 improves BAT function. TRB3 expression was increased in BAT from high-fat fed mice and ob/ob mice, which was associated with decreased UCP1 expression. Incubation of brown adipocytes with palmitate increased TRB3 expression and decreased UCP1. Knockout of TRB3 in mice displayed higher UCP1 expression in BAT and cold resistance. Incubation of brown adipocytes with ER stressors increased TRB3 but decreased UCP1 and ER stress markers were elevated in BAT from high-fat fed mice and ob/ob mice. Finally, high-fat feeding in TRB3KO mice were protected from obesity-induced glucose intolerance and displayed cold resistance and higher expression of BAT-specific markers. These data demonstrate that high-fat feeding and obesity increase TRB3 in BAT, resulting in impaired tissue function.
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