Maude Giroud, Foivos-Filippos Tsokanos, Giorgio Caratti, Stefan Kotschi, Sajjad Khani, Céline Jouffe, Elena S. Vogl, Martin Imler, Christina Glantschnig, Manuel Gil-Lozano, Daniela Hass, Asrar Ali Khan, Marcos Rios Garcia, Frits Mattijssen, Adriano Maida, Daniel Tews, Pamela Fischer-Posovszky, Annette Feuchtinger, Kirsi A.Virtanen, Johannes Beckers, Martin Wabitsch, Henriette Uhlenhaut, Matthias Blüher, Jan Tuckerman, Marcel Scheideler, Alexander Bartelt, Stephan Herzig
Adipocytes are essential pillars of metabolism and endocrine processes. Understanding the molecular programmes that govern adipocyte formation and function are key to developing new approaches to treat obesity and associated disorders. In this issue, Giroud et al (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-021-05470-y) report that the transcription factor HAND2 is a gene switch required for making fully functional adipocytes from precursor cells. The authors provide evidence that HAND2 is regulated by glucocorticoids and is found at lower levels in people with obesity. Using an engineered human adipocyte model system, Giroud et al elucidated the gene networks controlled by HAND2 and pinpoint its impact on the early phase of mesenchymal stem cell commitment. This study provides new insight into the molecular machinery of adipocyte differentiation and enhances our understanding of how glucocorticoids impact metabolism in obesity.