Sustained β3 adrenergic receptor (ADRB3) activation simultaneously upregulates fatty acid synthesis and oxidation in mouse brown, beige, and white adipose tissues; however, the cellular basis of this dual regulation is not known. Treatment of mice with the ADRB3 agonist CL316,243 (CL) increased expression of fatty acid synthase (FASN) and medium chain acyl-CoA dehydrogenase (MCAD) protein within the same cells in classic brown and white adipose tissues. Surprisingly, in inguinal adipose tissue, CL-upregulated FASN and MCAD in distinct cell populations: high MCAD expression occurred in multilocular adipocytes that co-expressed UCP1+, whereas high FASN expression occurred in paucilocular adipocytes lacking detectable UCP1. Genetic tracing with UCP1-cre, however, indicated nearly half of adipocytes with a history of UCP1 expression expressed high levels of FASN without current expression of UCP1. Global transcriptomic analysis of FACS-isolated adipocytes confirmed the presence of distinct anabolic and catabolic phenotypes, and identified differential expression of transcriptional pathways known to regulate lipid synthesis and oxidation. Surprisingly, paternally-expressed genes of the non-classical gene imprinted network were strikingly enriched in anabolic phenotypes, suggesting possible involvement in maintaining the balance of metabolic phenotypes. The results indicate that metabolic heterogeneity is a distinct property of activated beige/brite adipocytes that might be under epigenetic control.
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