Expression of FBN1 during adipogenesis: relevance to the lipodystrophy phenotype in Marfan syndrome and related conditions

Margaret R Davis, Erik Arner, Cairnan R E Duffy, Paul De Sousa, Ingrid Dahlman, Peter Arner, Kim Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Fibrillin-1 is a large glycoprotein encoded by the FBN1 gene in humans. It provides strength and elasticity to connective tissues and is involved in regulating the bioavailability of the growth factor TGFβ. Mutations in FBN1 may be associated with depleted or abnormal adipose tissue, seen in some patients with Marfan syndrome and lipodystrophies. As this lack of adipose tissue does not result in high morbidity or mortality, it is generally underappreciated but is a cause of psychosocial problems. We examined the role of fibrillin-1 in adipogenesis. In inbred mouse strains we found significant variation in the level of expression in the Fbn1 gene that correlated with variation in several measures of body fat, suggesting that mouse fibrillin-1 is associated with the level of fat tissue. Furthermore, we found that FBN1 mRNA was up-regulated in the adipose tissue of obese women compared to non-obese, and associated with an increase in adipocyte size. We used human mesenchymal stem cells differentiated in culture to adipocytes to show that fibrillin-1 declines after the initiation of differentiation. Gene expression results from a similar experiment (available through the FANTOM5 project) revealed that the decline in fibrillin-1 protein was paralleled by a decline in FBN1 mRNA. Examination of the FBN1 gene showed that the region commonly affected in FBN1- associated lipodystrophy is highly conserved both across the three human fibrillin genes and across genes encoding fibrillin-1 in vertebrates. These results suggest that fibrillin-1 is involved as the undifferentiated mesenchymal stem cells transition to adipogenesis but then declines as the developing adipocytes take on their final phenotype. Since the C-terminal peptide of fibrillin-1 is a glucogenic hormone, individuals with low fibrillin-1 (for example with FBN1 mutations associated with lipodystrophy) may fail to differentiate and/or to accumulate adipocyte lipids, although this needs to be shown experimentally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-185
JournalMolecular Genetics and Metabolism
Issue number1-2
Early online date23 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016


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