Paternally inherited Gsα mutation impairs adipogenesis and potentiates a lean phenotype in vivo

Jan Jan Liu, Elizabeth Russell, Deyu Zhang, Frederick S. Kaplan, Robert J. Pignolo, Eileen M. Shore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Paternally inherited inactivating mutations of the GNAS gene have been associated with a rare and disabling genetic disorder, progressive osseous heteroplasia, in which heterotopic ossification occurs within extraskeletal soft tissues, such as skin, subcutaneous fat, and skeletal muscle. This ectopic bone formation is hypothesized to be caused by dysregulated mesenchymal progenitor cell differentiation that affects a bipotential osteogenic-adipogenic lineage cell fate switch. Interestingly, patients with paternally inherited inactivating mutations of GNAS are uniformly lean. Using a mouse model of Gsα-specific exon 1 disruption, we examined whether heterozygous inactivation of Gnas affects adipogenic differentiation of mesenchymal precursor cells from subcutaneous adipose tissues (fat pad). We found that paternally inherited Gsα inactivation (Gsα+/p-) impairs adipogenic differentiation of adipose-derived stromal cells (ASCs). The Gsα+/p- mutation in ASCs also decreased expression of the adipogenic factors CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP)β, C/EBPα, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma, and adipocyte protein 2. Impaired adipocyte differentiation was rescued by an adenylyl cyclase activator, forskolin, and provided evidence that Gsα-cAMP signals are necessary in early stages of this process. Supporting a role for Gnas in adipogenesis in vivo, fat tissue weight and expression of adipogenic genes from multiple types of adipose tissues from Gsα+/p- mice were significantly decreased. Interestingly, the inhibition of adipogenesis by paternally inherited Gsα mutation also enhances expression of the osteogenic factors, msh homeobox 2, runt-related transcription factor 2, and osteocalcin. These data support the hypothesis that Gsα plays a critical role in regulating the balance between fat and bone determination in soft tissues, a finding that has important implications for a wide variety of disorders of osteogenesis and adipogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1477-1485
Number of pages9
JournalStem Cells
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2012


  • Adipogenesis
  • Differentiation
  • GNAS
  • Heterotopic ossification
  • Progressive osseous heteroplasia
  • Stem cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology


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