Areas of Interest
We are interested in many aspects of adipose tissue biology. A long-standing problem in the field has been identification of signals that promote or repress preadipocyte differentiation. Our early work demonstrated that Wnt signaling is a powerful endogenous inhibitor of adipogenesis, and our current work is focusing on how Wnt signaling regulates mitochondrial biogenesis and energy expenditure. In addition, we have discovered that activation of sweet taste receptors in mesenchymal precursors is sufficient to stimulate conversion to adipocytes, and repress alternative cell fates such as the osteoblast. This has opened up myriad possibilities for experiments with artificial sweeteners and endogenous ligands that influence the phenotype of control and sweet taste receptor knockout mice. We are also exploring the function of marrow adipose tissue, which is expanded in anorexic women, and have found that it is a disproportionate source of important secreted adipocyte proteins such as adiponectin. Our experimental approaches include biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, and extend to mouse and human physiology.
Cawthorn, W.P., E.L. Scheller, B.S. Learman, S.D. Parlee, B.R. Simon, H. Mori, X. Ning, A.J. Bree, B. Schell, D.T. Broome, S.S. Soliman, J.L. DelProposto, C.N. Lumeng, A. Mitra, S.V. Pandit, K.A. Gallagher, J.D. Miller, V. Krishnan, S.K. Hui, P.K. Fazeli, M.A. Bredella, A. Klibanski, M.C. Horowitz, C.J. Rosen and O.A. MacDougald. 2014. Bone marrow adipose tissue contributes to increased circulating adiponectin during caloric restriction. Cell Metabolism (DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2014.06.003).
Parlee, S.D., B.R. Simon, E.L. Scheller, E.U. Alejandro, B.S. Learman, V. Krishnan, E. Bernal-Mizrachi and O.A. MacDougald. 2014. Saccharin administration to neonatal mice increases lean and bone mass, and decreases adiposity of adult males. Endocrinology 155: 1313-26. PMCID: PMC3959603.
Simon, B.R., S.D. Parlee, B.S. Learman, H. Mori, E.L. Scheller, W.P. Cawthorn, X. Ning, K. Gallagher, B. Tyrberg, F.M. Assadi-Porter, C.R. Evans, and O.A. MacDougald. 2013. Artificial sweeteners stimulate adipogenesis and suppress lipolysis independent of sweet taste receptors. Journal of Biological Chemistry 288: 32475-32489. PMCID: PMC3820882.
Du, B., W.P. Cawthorn, Y. Yao, N. Hemati, S. Kampert, A. Su, C. McCoin, D. Broome, and O.A. MacDougald. 2013. The transcription factor paired-related homeobox 1 (Prrx1) inhibits adipogenesis by activating TGF signaling. Journal of Biological Chemistry 288: 3036-3047. PMCID: PMC3561528.
Mori, H., T.C. Prestwich, M.A. Reid, K.A. Longo, I. Gerin, W.P. Cawthorn, V.S. Susulic, V. Krishnan, A. Greenfield, and O.A. MacDougald. 2012. Secreted frizzled-related protein 5 suppresses adipocyte mitochondrial metabolism through WNT inhibition. Journal of Clinical Investigation 122: 2405-16. PMCID: PMC3386832
Honors & Awards
- 2011 - Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentoring Award, University of Michigan Bio-artography.com: contributed “Where the ice cream goes”
- 2012 - Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
- 2013 - League of Excellence in Education, University of Michigan Medical School Fellow of The Obesity Society
- 2013-2014 - Fulbright Scholar Award (All disciplines) to the University of Cambridge, UK
- 1982-1986 University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; BSc (Agr)
- 1986-1988 Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; M.S.
- 1988-1992 Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; Ph.D. (Department of Physiology; Advisor: Donald B. Jump)
- 1992-1996 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; (Department of Biological Chemistry; Laboratory of M. Daniel Lane)