The adipocyte-specific proteome
Adipocytes are the main cell type present in adipose tissue and are responsible for storing calories in the form of lipid droplets. Besides lipid storage, the adipocytes also have an endocrine function by secreting adipokines.
The adipocyte transcriptome
The scRNA-seq-based adipocyte transcriptome can be analyzed with regard to specificity, illustrating the number of genes with elevated expression in adipocytes compared to other cell types (Table 1). Genes with an elevated expression are divided into three subcategories:
As shown in Table 1, 498 genes are elevated in adipocytes compared to other cell types. Adipocytes are responsible for the storage of lipids in their lipid droplet. Examples of genes involved in this are FABP4 a lipid transporter and LIPE a lipase able to hydrolyze a broad number of different substrates.
Adipose cells are mainly localized in adipose tissue as well as other loose connective tissues present under the skin and around the organs where it functions as a physical protective cushion. Protecting the underlying tissues is not the only function of adipose cells as these are also known to store lipids as well as have an endocrine function. Adipocytes take up and store lipids as triglyceride-rich lipoproteins in a lipid droplet which can be consumed during periods of low energy, effectively functioning as a battery for the body. The endocrine function of adipose cells is their secretion of adipokines like leptin, resistin, and adiponectin important for regulating lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and the immune system. Dysregulation of this endocrine function, for example due to obesity, is linked to cardiovascular disorders, insulin resistance, and chronic inflammation.
The histology of organs that contain adipocytes, including interactive images, is described in the Protein Atlas Histology Dictionary.
Here, the protein-coding genes expressed in adipocytes are described and characterized, together with examples of immunohistochemically stained tissue sections that visualize corresponding protein expression patterns of genes with elevated expression in different adipocyte types.
The transcript profiling was based on publicly available genome-wide expression data from scRNA-seq experiments covering 29 tissues and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). All datasets (unfiltered read counts of cells) were clustered separately using louvain clustering, resulting in a total of 536 different cell type clusters. The clusters were then manually annotated based on a survey of known tissue and cell type-specific markers. The scRNA-seq data from each cluster of cells was aggregated to mean normalized protein-coding transcripts per million (nTPM) and the normalized expression value (nTPM) across all protein-coding genes. A specificity and distribution classification was performed to determine the number of genes elevated in these single cell types, and the number of genes detected in one, several or all cell types, respectively.
It should be noted that since the analysis was limited to datasets from 29 tissues and PBMC only, not all human cell types are represented. Furthermore, some cell types are present only in low amounts, or identified only in mixed cell clusters, which may affect the results and bias the cell type specificity.
Relevant links and publications
Uhlén M et al., Tissue-based map of the human proteome. Science (2015)