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Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2011 Sep 28;12(11):722-34. doi: 10.1038/nrm3198.

Forming functional fat: a growing understanding of adipocyte differentiation.

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Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Department of Medicine, The Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism, Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Adipose tissue, which is primarily composed of adipocytes, is crucial for maintaining energy and metabolic homeostasis. Adipogenesis is thought to occur in two stages: commitment of mesenchymal stem cells to a preadipocyte fate and terminal differentiation. Cell shape and extracellular matrix remodelling have recently been found to regulate preadipocyte commitment and competency by modulating WNT and RHO-family GTPase signalling cascades. Adipogenic stimuli induce terminal differentiation in committed preadipocytes through the epigenomic activation of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ). The coordination of PPARγ with CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBP) transcription factors maintains adipocyte gene expression. Improving our understanding of these mechanisms may allow us to identify therapeutic targets against metabolic diseases that are rapidly becoming epidemic globally.

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