The profound energy-expending nature of brown adipose tissue (BAT) thermogenesis makes it an attractive target tissue to combat obesity-associated metabolic disorders. While cold exposure is the strongest inducer of BAT activity, the temporal mechanisms tuning BAT adaptation during this activation process are incompletely understood. Here we show that the scaffold protein Afadin is dynamically regulated by cold in BAT, and participates in cold acclimation. Cold exposure acutely increases Afadin protein levels and its phosphorylation in BAT. Knockdown of Afadin in brown pre-adipocytes does not alter adipogenesis but restricts β3-adrenegic induction of thermogenic genes expression and HSL phosphorylation in mature brown adipocytes. Consistent with a defect in thermogenesis, an impaired cold tolerance was observed in fat-specific Afadin knockout mice. However, while Afadin depletion led to reduced Ucp1 mRNA induction by cold, stimulation of Ucp1 protein was conserved. Transcriptomic analysis revealed that fat-specific ablation of Afadin led to decreased functional enrichment of gene sets controlling essential metabolic functions at thermoneutrality in BAT, whereas it led to an altered reprogramming in response to cold, with enhanced enrichment of different pathways related to metabolism and remodeling. Collectively, we demonstrate a role for Afadin in supporting the adrenergic response in brown adipocytes and BAT function.
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