Cysteine 253 of UCP1 regulates energy expenditure and sex-dependent adipose tissue inflammation

Evanna L. Mills, Cathal Harmon, Mark P. Jedrychowski, Haopeng Xiao, Anja V. Gruszczyk, Gary A. Bradshaw, Nhien Tran, Ryan Garrity, Dina Laznik-Bogoslavski, John Szpyt, Hannah Prendeville, Lydia Lynch, Michael P. Murphy, Steven P. Gygi, Bruce M. Spiegelman, Edward T. Chouchani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is a major regulator of brown and beige adipocyte energy expenditure and metabolic homeostasis. However, the widely employed UCP1 loss-of-function model has recently been shown to have a severe deficiency in the entire electron transport chain of thermogenic fat. As such, the role of UCP1 in metabolic regulation in vivo remains unclear. We recently identified cysteine-253 as a regulatory site on UCP1 that elevates protein activity upon covalent modification. Here, we examine the physiological importance of this site through the generation of a UCP1 cysteine-253-null (UCP1 C253A) mouse, a precise genetic model for selective disruption of UCP1 in vivo. UCP1 C253A mice exhibit significantly compromised thermogenic responses in both males and females but display no measurable effect on fat accumulation in an obesogenic environment. Unexpectedly, we find that a lack of C253 results in adipose tissue redox stress, which drives substantial immune cell infiltration and systemic inflammatory pathology in adipose tissues and liver of male, but not female, mice. Elevation of systemic estrogen reverses this male-specific pathology, providing a basis for protection from inflammation due to loss of UCP1 C253 in females. Together, our results establish the UCP1 C253 activation site as a regulator of acute thermogenesis and sex-dependent tissue inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)140-157.e8
JournalCell Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 4 2022
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


  • cysteine
  • inflammation
  • metabolism
  • reactive oxygen species
  • sex differences
  • UCP1


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