DEPTOR loss impairs brown adipocyte development in vitro but has limited impacts in mice

Charles Colas, Mathilde Mouchiroud, Manal Al Dow, Alona Kolnohuz, ... Mathieu Laplante


The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a serine/threonine kinase that regulates growth and metabolism. In mice, activation of mTOR controls cold adaptation by promoting the recruitment and the activation of brown adipose tissue (BAT). DEP-domain containing mTOR-interacting protein (DEPTOR) interacts with mTOR to modulate its activity. Whether DEPTOR levels are modulated by cold in BAT and whether this protein regulates brown adipocyte development and thermogenic activation has never been tested.


DEPTOR levels were measured in mouse tissues upon cold exposure and in brown preadipocytes following the induction of adipogenesis. Lentiviruses expressing short-hairpin RNA were used to repress DEPTOR expression in brown preadipocytes in vitro. Conditional deletion of DEPTOR in brown preadipocytes and in mature brown fat cells was achieved by crossing DEPTOR floxed mice with either Myf5-Cre or Ucp1-CreERT2 mice. These animals were exposed to cold and extensively phenotyped.


DEPTOR is highly expressed in BAT and its levels are induced by chronic cold exposure, a condition that triggers BAT expansion and activation. Supporting a role for DEPTOR in brown fat cell recruitment, we found that DEPTOR is induced during brown adipocyte development and that its depletion impairs adipogenesis in vitro. This adipogenic lesion was associated with defects in both Akt activation and the expression of key adipogenic regulators. Conditional deletion of DEPTOR in brown preadipocytes or mature brown fat cells did not impact BAT recruitment and thermogenesis in mice but slightly reduced the expression of adipogenic and lipogenic genes.


DEPTOR is highly expressed in BAT and its levels are dynamically regulated during brown fat cell development and upon cold exposure. Although DEPTOR depletion severely represses brown fat adipogenesis in vitro, its deletion is dispensable for BAT development, recruitment, and thermogenic activation in mice.