Wt1, the mesothelium and the origins and heterogeneity of visceral fat progenitors

You-Ying Chau, Nick Hastie

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


One major gap in adipocyte biology has been a lack of understanding of the developmental origins of the different visceral white adipose tissue (WAT) depots and subcutaneous WAT. In a recent study we showed that most visceral WAT but no subcutaneous WAT arises from cells expressing the Wilms' tumor 1 (Wt1) gene late in mouse gestation.(1) Wt1 continues to be expressed in visceral WAT progenitors into adult life. We also showed that visceral WAT is lined by a mesothelium and provided evidence that this structure is the source of adipocytes. Our study also adds to the growing body of evidence that there is heterogeneity in the visceral progenitors, such that there are Wt1-expressing and non-expressing subsets, the relative proportions of which vary between depots. This raises the enticing prospect that the adipocytes arising from these progenitor subsets may have different properties and our preliminary data support this notion. Finally, evidence from our study and one from Spiegelman's group(2) suggests that Wt1 is not just a marker but regulates visceral WAT identity and the progenitor population. We discuss the implications of this work and some of the questions and future directions that arise from it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-221
Number of pages5
Issue number3
Early online date6 Jan 2015
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2015


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