Purpose of review: Epigenetic regulation plays an essential role in cell differentiation, by allowing the establishment and maintenance of the gene-expression pattern of the mature cell type. Because of its importance in chronic diseases, adipogenesis is one of the best-studied differentiation processes. The hormonal and transcriptional cascades governing the differentiation of the adipocytes are well known, but the role of epigenetic mechanisms is only starting to emerge. In this review, we intend to summarize the recently described epigenetic events that participate in adipogenesis and their connections with the main factors that constitute the classical transcriptional cascade.
Recent findings: The advent of high-throughput technologies has made possible the exhaustive analysis of the epigenetic phenomenons taking place during adipogenesis. The cooperative recruitment of CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein (C/EBPβ) and other early proadipogenic transcription factors to transcription factor hotspots shortly after induction of adipogenesis is required to establish a transient epigenomic state that then informs the recruitment of the later adipogenic transcription factors peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPARγ) and C/EBPα to their target genes.
Summary: Epigenetic marks and chromatin-modifying proteins contribute to adipogenesis and, through regulation of the phenotypic maintenance of the mature adipocytes, to the control of metabolism.