Dissecting the role of aryl hydrocarbon receptor in thermogenic adipose tissue

Year of award: 2018


  • Dr Chris Schiering

    Imperial College London

Project summary

Two functionally distinct classes of adipocytes exist in both mice and humans. White adipocytes store energy while brown adipocytes burn energy to generate heat through a process termed thermogenesis. The principal function of brown adipose tissue (BAT) is to protect against hypothermia. BAT is considered an attractive therapeutic target for the treatment of obesity because of its ability to promote energy expenditure. However, there are no therapeutic agents that promote BAT activity safely. My data suggest a role for the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), a transcription factor that recognises dietary compounds, in the regulation of thermogenesis.

I will identify the cellular and molecular targets of AHR in BAT by combining conditional gene-targeting, RNA-seq and ChIP-seq approaches. I will determine whether dietary AHR ligands can enhance thermogenesis and improve metabolic disease.

My findings may facilitate the use of dietary AHR ligands for the treatment of obesity.