Disabled-2 (Dab2) is a widely expressed clathrin binding endocytic adaptor protein and known for the endocytosis of the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) family receptors. Dab2 also modulates endosomal Ras/MAPK (Erk1/2) activity by regulating the disassembly of Grb2/Sos1 complexes associated with clathrin-coated vesicles. We found that the most prominent phenotype of Dab2 knockout mice was their striking lean body composition under a high fat and high caloric diet, although the weight of the mutant mice was indistinguishable from wild-type littermates on a regular chow. The remarkable difference in resistance to high caloric diet-induced weight gain of the dab2-deleted mice was presented only in juvenile but not in mature mice. Investigation using Dab2-deficient embryonic fibroblasts and mesenchymal stromal cells indicated that Dab2 promoted adipogenic differentiation by modulation of MAPK (Erk1/2) activity, which otherwise suppresses adipogenesis through the phosphorylation of PPARγ. The results suggest that Dab2 is required for the excessive calorie-induced differentiation of an adipocyte progenitor cell population that is present in juvenile but depleted in mature animals. The finding provides evidence for a limited pre-adipocyte population in juvenile mammals and the requirement of Dab2 in the regulation of Ras/MAPK signal in the commitment of the precursor cells to adipose tissues.
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