Harmine Induces Adipocyte Thermogenesis through RAC1-MEK-ERK-CHD4 Axis

Harmine is a natural compound possessing insulin-sensitizing effect in db/db diabetic mice. However its effect on adipose tissue browning is unknown. Here we reveal that harmine antagonizes high fat diet-induced adiposity. Harmine-treated mice gained less weight on a high fat diet and displayed increased energy expenditure and adipose tissue thermogenesis. In vitro, harmine potently induced the expression of thermogenic genes in both brown and white adipocytes, which was largely abolished by inhibition of RAC1/MEK/ERK pathway. Post-transcriptional modification analysis revealed that chromodomain helicase DNA binding protein 4 (CHD4) is a potential downstream target of harmine-mediated ERK activation. CHD4 directly binds the proximal promoter region of Ucp1, which is displaced upon treatment of harmine, thereby serving as a negative modulator of Ucp1. Thus, here we reveal a new application of harmine in combating obesity via this off-target effect in adipocytes.

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