Brown adipose tissue is a major thermogenic organ that plays a key role in maintenance of body temperature and whole-body energy homeostasis. Rev-erbα, a ligand-dependent nuclear receptor and transcription repressor of the molecular clock, has been implicated in the regulation of adipogenesis. However, whether Rev-erbα participates in brown fat formation is not known. Here we show that Rev-erbα is a key regulator of brown adipose tissue development by promoting brown adipogenesis. Genetic ablation of Rev-erbα in mice severely impairs embryonic and neonatal brown fat formation accompanied by loss of brown identity. This defect is due to a cell-autonomous function of Rev-erbα in brown adipocyte lineage commitment and terminal differentiation, as demonstrated by genetic loss- and gain-of-function studies in mesenchymal precursors and brown preadipocytes. Moreover, pharmacological activation of Rev-erbα activity promotes, whereas its inhibition suppresses brown adipocyte differentiation. Mechanistic investigations reveal that Rev-erbα represses key components of the TGF-β cascade, an inhibitory pathway of brown fat development. Collectively, our findings delineate a novel role of Rev-erbα in driving brown adipocyte development, and provide experimental evidence that pharmacological interventions of Rev-erbα may offer new avenues for the treatment of obesity and related metabolic disorders.
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