Adipocytes undergo considerable volumetric expansion in the setting of obesity. It has been proposed that such marked increases in adipocyte size may be sensed via adipocyte-autonomous mechanisms to mediate size-dependent intracellular signalling. Here, we show that SWELL1 (LRRC8a), a member of the Leucine-Rich Repeat Containing protein family, is an essential component of a volume-sensitive ion channel (VRAC) in adipocytes. We find that SWELL1-mediated VRAC is augmented in hypertrophic murine and human adipocytes in the setting of obesity. SWELL1 regulates adipocyte insulin-PI3K-AKT2-GLUT4 signalling, glucose uptake and lipid content via SWELL1 C-terminal leucine-rich repeat domain interactions with GRB2/Cav1. Silencing GRB2 in SWELL1 KO adipocytes rescues insulin-pAKT2 signalling. In vivo, shRNA-mediated SWELL1 knockdown and adipose-targeted SWELL1 knockout reduce adiposity and adipocyte size in obese mice while impairing systemic glycaemia and insulin sensitivity. These studies identify SWELL1 as a cell-autonomous sensor of adipocyte size that regulates adipocyte growth, insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology