Connexin43 (Cx43) is the most abundant gap junction protein present in the mesenchymal lineage. In mature adipocytes, Cx43 mediates white adipose tissue (WAT) beiging in response to cold exposure and maintains the mitochondrial integrity of brown adipose tissue (BAT). We found that genetic deletion of Gja1 (Cx43 gene) in cells that give rise to chondro-osteogenic and adipogenic precursors driven by the Dermo1/Twist2 promoter led to lower body adiposity and partial protection against the weight gain and metabolic syndrome induced by a high-fat diet (HFD) in both sexes. These protective effects were related to increased locomotion, fuel utilization, energy expenditure, nonshivering thermogenesis, and better glucose tolerance in conditionally Gja1-ablated mice. Accordingly, Gja1-mutant mice exhibited reduced adipocyte hypertrophy, partially preserved insulin sensitivity, increased BAT lipolysis, and decreased whitening under HFD. This metabolic phenotype was not reproduced with more restricted Gja1 ablation in differentiated adipocytes, suggesting that Cx43 in adipocyte progenitors or other targeted cells restrains energy expenditures and promotes fat accumulation. These results reveal what we believe is a hitherto unknown action of Cx43 in adiposity, and offer a promising new pharmacologic target for improving metabolic balance in diabetes and obesity.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere170016
JournalJCI Insight
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2024


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