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OBJECTIVE: Sarco/endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase (SERCA) transports Ca2+ from the cytosol into the ER and is essential for appropriate regulation of intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis. The objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that SERCA pumps are involved in the regulation of white adipocyte hormone secretion and other aspects of adipose tissue function and that this control is disturbed in obesity-induced type-2 diabetes. METHODS: SERCA expression was measured in isolated human and mouse adipocytes as well as in whole mouse adipose tissue by Western blot and RT-qPCR. To test the significance of SERCA2 in adipocyte functionality and whole-body metabolism, we generated adipocyte-specific SERCA2 knockout mice. The mice were metabolically phenotyped by glucose tolerance and tracer studies, histological analyses, measurements of glucose-stimulated insulin release in isolated islets, and gene/protein expression analyses. We also tested the effect of pharmacological SERCA inhibition and genetic SERCA2 ablation in cultured adipocytes. Intracellular and mitochondrial Ca2+ levels were recorded with dual-wavelength ratio imaging and mitochondrial function was assessed by Seahorse technology. RESULTS: We demonstrate that SERCA2 is downregulated in white adipocytes from patients with obesity and type-2 diabetes as well as in adipocytes from diet-induced obese mice. SERCA2-ablated adipocytes display disturbed Ca2+ homeostasis associated with upregulated ER stress markers and impaired hormone release. These adipocyte alterations are linked to mild lipodystrophy, reduced adiponectin levels, and impaired glucose tolerance. Interestingly, adipocyte-specific SERCA2 ablation leads to increased glucose uptake in white adipose tissue while glucose uptake is reduced in brown adipose tissue. This dichotomous effect on glucose uptake is due to differently regulated mitochondrial function. In white adipocytes, SERCA2 deficiency triggers an adaptive increase in FGF21, increased mitochondrial UCP1 levels, and increased oxygen consumption rate (OCR). In contrast, brown SERCA2 null adipocytes display reduced OCR despite increased mitochondrial content and UCP1 levels compared to wild type controls. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest causal links between reduced white adipocyte SERCA2 levels, deranged adipocyte Ca2+ homeostasis, adipose tissue dysfunction and type-2 diabetes.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Metab

Publication Date



Adipokine, Adiponectin, Adipose tissue, Atp2a2, Brown adipose tissue, Calcium, Endoplasmatic reticulum, FGF21, Mitochondria, Obesity, SERCA2, Type-2 diabetes