ROCK2 inhibition enhances the thermogenic program in white and brown fat tissue in mice

Lei Wei, Michelle Surma, Yang Yang, Sarah Tersey, Jianjian Shi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The RhoA/ROCK-mediated actin cytoskeleton dynamics have been implicated in adipogenesis. The two ROCK isoforms, ROCK1 and ROCK2, are highly homologous. The contribution of ROCK2 to adipogenesis in vivo has not been elucidated. The present study aimed at the in vivo and in vitro roles of ROCK2 in the regulation of adipogenesis and the development of obesity. We performed molecular, histological, and metabolic analyses in ROCK2+/− and ROCK2+/KD mouse models, the latter harboring an allele with a kinase-dead (KD) mutation. Both ROCK2+/− and ROCK2+/KD mouse models showed a lean body mass phenotype during aging, associated with increased amounts of beige cells in subcutaneous white adipose tissue (sWAT) and increased thermogenic gene expression in all fat depots. ROCK2+/− mice on a high-fat diet showed increased energy expenditure accompanying by reduced obesity, and improved insulin sensitivity. In vitro differentiated ROCK2+/− stromal-vascular (SV) cells revealed increased beige adipogenesis associated with increased thermogenic gene expressions. Treatment with a selective ROCK2 inhibitor, KD025, to inhibit ROCK2 activity in differentiated SV cells reproduced the pro-beige phenotype of ROCK2+/− SV cells. In conclusion, ROCK2 activity-mediated actin cytoskeleton dynamics contribute to the inhibition of beige adipogenesis in WAT, and also promotes age-related and diet-induced fat mass gain and insulin resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)474-493
Number of pages20
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • ROCK2
  • ROCK2-selective inhibitor
  • beige adipogenesis
  • energy expenditure
  • obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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