Although many transcriptional pathways regulating brown adipose tissue (BAT) have been identified, the role of lipid biosynthetic enzymes in thermogenesis has been less investigated.
Whereas cold exposure causes changes in the fatty acid composition of BAT, the functional consequences of this remains relatively unexplored.
In this study, authors demonstrate in the journal Cell Reports that the enzyme Elongation of Very Long Chain fatty acids 6 (Elovl6) is necessary for the thermogenic action of BAT.
Elovl6 is responsible for converting C16 non-essential fatty acids into C18 species. Loss of Elovl6 does not modulate traditional BAT markers; instead, it causes reduced expression of mitochondrial electron transport chain components and lower BAT thermogenic capacity.
The reduction in BAT activity appears to be counteracted by increased beiging of scWAT. When beige fat is disabled by thermoneutrality or aging, Elovl6 KO mice gain weight and have increased scWAT mass and impaired carbohydrate metabolism.
Overall, this study suggests fatty acid chain length is important for BAT function.