Mitochondrial stress-activated cGAS-STING pathway inhibits thermogenic program and contributes to overnutrition-induced obesity in mice

Juli Bai, Christopher Cervantes, Sijia He, Jieyu He, George R. Plasko, Jie Wen, Zhi Li, Dongqing Yin, Chuntao Zhang, Meilian Liu, Lily Q. Dong, Feng Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Obesity is a global epidemic that is caused by excessive energy intake or inefficient energy expenditure. Brown or beige fat dissipates energy as heat through non-shivering thermogenesis by their high density of mitochondria. However, how the mitochondrial stress-induced signal is coupled to the cellular thermogenic program remains elusive. Here, we show that mitochondrial DNA escape-induced activation of the cGAS-STING pathway negatively regulates thermogenesis in fat-specific DsbA-L knockout mice, a model of adipose tissue mitochondrial stress. Conversely, fat-specific overexpression of DsbA-L or knockout of STING protects mice against high-fat diet-induced obesity. Mechanistically, activation of the cGAS-STING pathway in adipocytes activated phosphodiesterase PDE3B/PDE4, leading to decreased cAMP levels and PKA signaling, thus reduced thermogenesis. Our study demonstrates that mitochondrial stress-activated cGAS-STING pathway functions as a sentinel signal that suppresses thermogenesis in adipose tissue. Targeting adipose cGAS-STING pathway may thus be a potential therapeutic strategy to counteract overnutrition-induced obesity and its associated metabolic diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number257
JournalCommunications Biology
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

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