Differential open chromatin profile and transcriptomic signature define depot-specific human subcutaneous preadipocytes: Primary outcomes

Adeline Divoux, Katalin Sandor, Dora Bojcsuk, Amlan Talukder, Xiaoman Li, Balint L. Balint, Timothy F. Osborne, Steven R. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Increased lower body fat is associated with reduced cardiometabolic risk. The molecular basis for depot-specific differences in gluteofemoral (GF) compared with abdominal (A) subcutaneous adipocyte function is poorly understood. In the current report, we used a combination of Assay for Transposase-Accessible Chromatin followed by sequencing (ATAC-seq), RNA-seq, and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP)-qPCR analyses that provide evidence that depot-specific gene expression patterns are associated with differential epigenetic chromatin signatures. Methods: Preadipocytes cultured from A and GF adipose tissue obtained from premenopausal apple-shaped women were used to perform transcriptome analysis by RNA-seq and assess accessible chromatin regions by ATAC-seq. We measured mRNA expression and performed ChIP-qPCR experiments for histone modifications of active (H3K4me3) and repressed chromatin (H3K27me3) regions respectively on the promoter regions of differentially expressed genes. Results: RNA-seq experiments revealed an A-fat and GF-fat selective gene expression signature, with 126 genes upregulated in abdominal preadipocytes and 90 genes upregulated in GF cells. ATAC-seq identified almost 10-times more A-specific chromatin-accessible regions. Using a combined analysis of ATAC-seq and global gene expression data, we identified 74 of the 126 abdominal-specific genes (59%) with A-specific accessible chromatin sites within 200 kb of the transcription start site (TSS), including HOXA3, HOXA5, IL8, IL1b, and IL6. Interestingly, only 14 of the 90 GF-specific genes (15%) had GF-specific accessible chromatin sites within 200 kb of the corresponding TSS, including HOXC13 and HOTAIR, whereas 25 of them (28%) had abdominal-specific accessible chromatin sites. ChIP-qPCR experiments confirmed that the active H3K4me3 chromatin mark was significantly enriched at the promoter regions of HOXA5 and HOXA3 genes in abdominal preadipocytes, while H3K27me3 was less abundant relative to chromatin from GF. This is consistent with their A-fat specific gene expression pattern. Conversely, analysis of the promoter regions of the GF specific HOTAIR and HOXC13 genes exhibited high H3K4me3 and low H3K27me3 levels in GF chromatin compared to A chromatin. Conclusions: Global transcriptome and open chromatin analyses of depot-specific preadipocytes identified their gene expression signature and differential open chromatin profile. Interestingly, A-fat-specific open chromatin regions can be observed in the proximity of GF-fat genes, but not vice versa. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov, NCT01745471. Registered 5 December 2012.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number148
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 26 2018


  • Abdominal fat
  • Chromatin openness
  • Fat distribution
  • Gene expression
  • Gluteofemoral fat
  • Histone marks
  • Preadipocytes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Genetics(clinical)


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