Skip to main content

24.10.2017 | Article | Ausgabe 2/2018 Open Access

Diabetologia 2/2018

Epigenetic modifications of the Zfp/ZNF423 gene control murine adipogenic commitment and are dysregulated in human hypertrophic obesity

Diabetologia > Ausgabe 2/2018
Michele Longo, Gregory A. Raciti, Federica Zatterale, Luca Parrillo, Antonella Desiderio, Rosa Spinelli, Ann Hammarstedt, Shahram Hedjazifar, Jenny M. Hoffmann, Cecilia Nigro, Paola Mirra, Francesca Fiory, Pietro Formisano, Claudia Miele, Ulf Smith, Francesco Beguinot
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s00125-017-4471-4) contains peer-reviewed but unedited supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Michele Longo, Gregory A. Raciti and Federica Zatterale contributed equally to this study.
Ulf Smith and Francesco Beguinot are joint senior authors.



Subcutaneous adipocyte hypertrophy is associated with insulin resistance and increased risk of type 2 diabetes, and predicts its future development independent of obesity. In humans, subcutaneous adipose tissue hypertrophy is a consequence of impaired adipocyte precursor cell recruitment into the adipogenic pathway rather than a lack of precursor cells. The zinc finger transcription factor known as zinc finger protein (ZFP) 423 has been identified as a major determinant of pre-adipocyte commitment and maintained white adipose cell function. Although its levels do not change during adipogenesis, ectopic expression of Zfp423 in non-adipogenic murine cells is sufficient to activate expression of the gene encoding peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (Pparγ; also known as Pparg) and increase the adipogenic potential of these cells. We investigated whether the Zfp423 gene is under epigenetic regulation and whether this plays a role in the restricted adipogenesis associated with hypertrophic obesity.


Murine 3T3-L1 and NIH-3T3 cells were used as fibroblasts committed and uncommitted to the adipocyte lineage, respectively. Human pre-adipocytes were isolated from the stromal vascular fraction of subcutaneous adipose tissue of 20 lean non-diabetic individuals with a wide adipose cell size range. mRNA levels were measured by quantitative real-time PCR, while methylation levels were analysed by bisulphite sequencing. Chromatin structure was analysed by micrococcal nuclease protection assay, and DNA-methyltransferases were chemically inhibited by 5-azacytidine. Adipocyte differentiation rate was evaluated by Oil Red O staining.


Comparison of uncommitted (NIH-3T3) and committed (3T3-L1) adipose precursor cells revealed that Zfp423 expression increased (p < 0.01) in parallel with the ability of the cells to differentiate into mature adipocytes owing to both decreased promoter DNA methylation (p < 0.001) and nucleosome occupancy (nucleosome [NUC] 1 p < 0.01; NUC2 p < 0.001) in the 3T3-L1 compared with NIH-3T3 cells. Interestingly, non-adipogenic epigenetic profiles can be reverted in NIH-3T3 cells as 5-azacytidine treatment increased Zfp423 mRNA levels (p < 0.01), reduced DNA methylation at a specific CpG site (p < 0.01), decreased nucleosome occupancy (NUC1, NUC2: p < 0.001) and induced adipocyte differentiation (p < 0.05). These epigenetic modifications can also be initiated in response to changes in the pre-adipose cell microenvironment, in which bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4) plays a key role. We finally showed that, in human adipocyte precursor cells, impaired epigenetic regulation of zinc nuclear factor (ZNF)423 (the human orthologue of murine Zfp423) was associated with inappropriate subcutaneous adipose cell hypertrophy. As in NIH-3T3 cells, the normal ZNF423 epigenetic profile was rescued by 5-azacytidine exposure.


Our results show that epigenetic events regulate the ability of precursor cells to commit and differentiate into mature adipocytes by modulating ZNF423, and indicate that dysregulation of these mechanisms accompanies subcutaneous adipose tissue hypertrophy in humans.

Unsere Produktempfehlungen

e.Med Interdisziplinär


Mit e.Med Interdisziplinär erhalten Sie Zugang zu allen CME-Fortbildungen und Fachzeitschriften auf Zusätzlich können Sie eine Zeitschrift Ihrer Wahl in gedruckter Form beziehen – ohne Aufpreis.

e.Med Innere Medizin


Mit e.Med Innere Medizin erhalten Sie Zugang zu CME-Fortbildungen des Fachgebietes Innere Medizin, den Premium-Inhalten der internistischen Fachzeitschriften, inklusive einer gedruckten internistischen Zeitschrift Ihrer Wahl.

e.Med Allgemeinmedizin


Mit e.Med Allgemeinmedizin erhalten Sie Zugang zu allen CME-Fortbildungen und Premium-Inhalten der allgemeinmedizinischen Zeitschriften, inklusive einer gedruckten Allgemeinmedizin-Zeitschrift Ihrer Wahl.

ESM (PDF 320 kb)
Über diesen Artikel

Weitere Artikel der Ausgabe 2/2018

Diabetologia 2/2018 Zur Ausgabe

Neu im Fachgebiet Innere Medizin

Meistgelesene Bücher aus der Inneren Medizin

2017 | Buch

Rheumatologie aus der Praxis

Entzündliche Gelenkerkrankungen – mit Fallbeispielen

Dieses Fachbuch macht mit den wichtigsten chronisch entzündlichen Gelenk- und Wirbelsäulenerkrankungen vertraut. Anhand von über 40 instruktiven Fallbeispielen werden anschaulich diagnostisches Vorgehen, therapeutisches Ansprechen und der Verlauf …

Rudolf Puchner

2016 | Buch

Ambulant erworbene Pneumonie

Was, wann, warum – Dieses Buch bietet differenzierte Diagnostik und Therapie der ambulant erworbenen Pneumonie zur sofortigen sicheren Anwendung. Entsprechend der neuesten Studien und Leitlinien aller wichtigen Fachgesellschaften.

Santiago Ewig

Mail Icon II Newsletter

Bestellen Sie unseren kostenlosen Newsletter Update Innere Medizin und bleiben Sie gut informiert – ganz bequem per eMail.

© Springer Medizin