Pluripotency is defined by a cell's potential to differentiate into any somatic cell type. How pluripotency is transited during embryo implantation, followed by cell lineage specification and establishment of the basic body plan, is poorly understood. Here we report the transcription factor Zfp281 functions in the exit from naive pluripotency occurring coincident with pre-to-post-implantation mouse embryonic development. By characterizing Zfp281 mutant phenotypes and identifying Zfp281 gene targets and protein partners in developing embryos and cultured pluripotent stem cells, we establish critical roles for Zfp281 in activating components of the Nodal signaling pathway and lineage-specific genes. Mechanistically, Zfp281 cooperates with histone acetylation and methylation complexes at target gene enhancers and promoters to exert transcriptional activation and repression, as well as epigenetic control of epiblast maturation leading up to anterior-posterior axis specification. Our study provides a comprehensive molecular model for understanding pluripotent state progressions in vivo during mammalian embryonic development.
Cold-induced thermogenesis is an energy-demanding process that protects endotherms against a reduction in ambient temperature. Using non-targeted liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based lipidomics, we identified elevated levels of plasma acylcarnitines in response to the cold. We found that the liver undergoes a metabolic switch to provide fuel for brown fat thermogenesis by producing acylcarnitines. Cold stimulates white adipocytes to release free fatty acids that activate the nuclear receptor HNF4α, which is required for acylcarnitine production in the liver and adaptive thermogenesis. Once in circulation, acylcarnitines are transported to brown adipose tissue, while uptake into white adipose tissue and liver is blocked. Finally, a bolus of L-carnitine or palmitoylcarnitine rescues the cold sensitivity seen with aging. Our data highlight an elegant mechanism whereby white adipose tissue provides long-chain fatty acids for hepatic carnitilation to generate plasma acylcarnitines as a fuel source for peripheral tissues in mice.
The formation of functional synapses requires coordinated assembly of presynaptic transmitter release machinery and postsynaptic trafficking of functional receptors and scaffolds. Here, we demonstrate a critical role of presynaptic cadherin/catenin cell adhesion complexes in stabilizing functional synapses and spines in the developing neocortex. Importantly, presynaptic expression of stabilized β-catenin in either layer (L) 4 excitatory neurons or L2/3 pyramidal neurons significantly upregulated excitatory synaptic transmission and dendritic spine density in L2/3 pyramidal neurons, while its sparse postsynaptic expression in L2/3 neurons had no such effects. In addition, presynaptic β-catenin expression enhanced release probability of glutamatergic synapses. Newly identified β-catenin-interacting protein p140Cap is required in the presynaptic locus for mediating these effects. Together, our results demonstrate that cadherin/catenin complexes stabilize functional synapses and spines through anterograde signaling in the neocortex and provide important molecular evidence for a driving role of presynaptic components in spinogenesis in the neocortex.