The direction of cross obesity after puberty in male but not female offspring

Stefan Kärst, Danny Arends, Sebastian Heise, Jan Trost, Marie Laure Yaspo, Vyacheslav Amstislavskiy, Thomas Risch, Hans Lehrach, Gudrun A. Brockmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: We investigated parent-of-origin and allele-specific expression effects on obesity and hepatic gene expression in reciprocal crosses between the Berlin Fat Mouse Inbred line (BFMI) and C57Bl/6NCrl (B6N). Results: We found that F1-males with a BFMI mother developed 1.8 times more fat mass on a high fat diet at 10 weeks than F1-males of a BFMI father. The phenotype was detectable from six weeks on and was preserved after cross-fostering. RNA-seq data of liver provided evidence for higher biosynthesis and elongation of fatty acids (p = 0.00635) in obese male offspring of a BFMI mother versus lean offspring of a BFMI father. Furthermore, fatty acid degradation (p = 0.00198) and the peroxisome pathway were impaired (p = 0.00094). The circadian rhythm was affected as well (p = 0.00087). Among the highest up-regulated protein coding genes in obese males were Acot4 (1.82 fold, p = 0.022), Cyp4a10 (1.35 fold, p = 0.026) and Cyp4a14 (1.32 fold, p = 0.012), which hydroxylize fatty acids and which are known to be increased in liver steatosis. Obese males showed lower expression of the genetically imprinted and paternally expressed 3 (Peg3) gene (0.31 fold, p = 0.046) and higher expression of the androgen receptor (Ar) gene (2.38 fold, p = 0.068). Allelic imbalance was found for expression of ATP-binding cassette transporter gene Abca8b. Several of the differentially expressed genes contain estrogen response elements. Conclusions: Parent-of-origin effects during gametogenesis and/or fetal development in an obese mother epigenetically modify the transcription of genes that lead to enhanced fatty acid synthesis and impair β-oxidation in the liver of male, but not female F1 offspring. Down-regulation of Peg3 could contribute to trigger this metabolic setting. At puberty, higher amounts of the androgen receptor and altered access to estrogen response elements in affected genes are likely responsible for male specific expression of genes that were epigenetically triggered. A suggestive lack of estrogen binding motifs was found for highly down-regulated genes in adult hepatocytes of obese F1 males (p = 0.074).

Original languageEnglish
Article number904
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


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