The conserved Mediator subunit cyclin C (CCNC) is required for brown adipocyte development and lipid accumulation

Ziyi Song, Alus M. Xiaoli, Youlei Li, Gerile Siqin, ... Fajun Yang


Cyclin C (CCNC) is the most conserved subunit of the Mediator complex, which is an important transcription cofactor. Recently, we have found that CCNC facilitates brown adipogenesis in vitro by activating C/EBPα-dependent transcription. However, the role of CCNC in brown adipose tissue (BAT) in vivoremains unclear.


We generated conditional knock-out mice by crossing Ccncflox/flox mice with Myf5CreUcp1Cre or AdipoqCre transgenic mice to investigate the role of CCNC in BAT development and function. We applied glucose and insulin tolerance test, cold exposure and indirect calorimetry to capture the physiological phenotypes and used immunostainingimmunoblotting, qRT-PCR, RNA-seq and cell culture to elucidate the underlying mechanisms.


Here, we show that deletion of CCNC in Myf5+ progenitor cells caused BAT paucity, despite the fact that there was significant neonatal lethality. Mechanistically different from in vitro, CCNC deficiency impaired the proliferation of embryonic brown fat progenitor cells without affecting brown adipogenesis or cell death. Interestingly, CCNC deficiency robustly reduced age-dependent lipid accumulation in differentiated brown adipocytes in all three mouse models. Mechanistically, CCNC in brown adipocytes is required for lipogenic gene expression through the activation of the C/EBPα/GLUT4/ChREBP axis. Consistent with the importance of de novolipogenesis under carbohydrate-rich diets, high-fat diet (HFD) feeding abolished CCNC deficiency -caused defects of lipid accumulation in BAT. Although insulin sensitivity and response to acute cold exposure were not affected, CCNC deficiency in Ucp1+ cells enhanced the browning of white adipose tissue (beiging) upon prolonged cold exposure.


Together, these data indicate an important role of CCNC-Mediator in the regulation of BAT development and lipid accumulation in brown adipocytes.