RCAN1 in adipocyte differentiation and metabolism

Fat cells
UCP1+ subcutaneous fat in Rcan1 knockout mouse

Rcan1 KO mice are resistant to high-fat diet-induced obesity and maintain insulin sensitivity even after prolonged high fat feeding. Knock down of Rcan1.1 and Rcan1.4 in preadipocytes inhibits subsequent adipocyte differentiation. We hypothesize that RCAN1 acts as a brake on the energy expending “beiging” of white adipose tissue.  

From an evolutionary viewpoint, such a function would be protective with limited food sources; however, it would be maladaptive in the current caloric abundance in the United States. Studies are underway in the laboratory to identify the specific molecular mechanism of RCAN1 action in adipocyte biology.