Opa1 deletion in brown adipose tissue improves thermoregulation and systemic metabolism via fgf21

Renata O. Pereira, Alex Marti, Angela Crystal Olvera, Satya Murthy Tadinada, Sarah Hartwick Bjorkman, Eric Thomas Weatherford, Donald A. Morgan, Michael Westphal, Pooja H. Patel, Ana Karina Kirby, Rana Hewezi, William Bùi Trân, Luis Miguel García-Peña, Rhonda A. Souvenir, Monika Mittal, Christopher M. Adams, Kamal Rahmouni, Matthew J. Potthoff, E. Dale Abel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Adrenergic stimulation of brown adipocytes alters mitochondrial dynamics, including the mitochondrial fusion protein optic atrophy 1 (OPA1). However, direct mechanisms linking OPA1 to brown adipose tissue (BAT) physiology are incompletely understood. We utilized a mouse model of selective OPA1 deletion in BAT (OPA1 BAT KO) to investigate the role of OPA1 in thermogenesis. OPA1 is required for cold-induced activation of thermogenic genes in BAT. Unexpectedly, OPA1 deficiency induced fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) as a BATokine in an activating transcription factor 4 (ATF4)-dependent manner. BAT-derived FGF21 mediates an adaptive response by inducing browning of white adipose tissue, increasing resting metabolic rates, and improving thermoregulation. However, mechanisms independent of FGF21, but dependent on ATF4 induction, promote resistance to diet-induced obesity in OPA1 BAT KO mice. These findings uncover a homeostatic mechanism of BAT-mediated metabolic protection governed in part by an ATF4-FGF21 axis, which is activated independently of BAT thermogenic function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere66519
StatePublished - May 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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