1982-1986 University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada; BSc (Agr)
1986-1988 Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; M.S.
1988-1992 Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan; Ph.D. (Department of Physiology; Advisor: Donald B. Jump)
1992-1996 Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland; (Department of Biological Chemistry; Laboratory of M. Daniel Lane)
We are interested in many aspects of adipose tissue biology. A long-standing problem in the field has been identification of signals that promote or repress preadipocyte differentiation. Our early work demonstrated that Wnt signaling is a powerful endogenous inhibitor of adipogenesis, and our current work is focusing on how Wnt signaling regulates mitochondrial biogenesis and energy expenditure. In addition, we have discovered that activation of sweet taste receptors in mesenchymal precursors is sufficient to stimulate conversion to adipocytes, and repress alternative cell fates such as the osteoblast. This has opened up myriad possibilities for experiments with artificial sweeteners and endogenous ligands that influence the phenotype of control and sweet taste receptor knockout mice. We are also exploring the function of marrow adipose tissue, which is expanded in anorexic women, and have found that it is a disproportionate source of important secreted adipocyte proteins such as adiponectin. Our experimental approaches include biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, and extend to mouse and human physiology.
Bommer, G.T. and O.A. MacDougald. 2011. Regulation of lipid homeostasis by the bifunctional SREBF2-miR33a locus. Cell Metabolism 13: 241-247. PMCID: PMC3062104
Cawthorn, W.P., A.J. Bree, N. Hemati, Y. Yao, B. Du, G. Martinez-Santibañez and O. A. MacDougald. 2012. Wnt6, Wnt10a and Wnt10b inhibit adipogenesis and stimulate osteoblastogenesis through a b-catenin-dependent mechanism. Bone 50: 477-489. PMCID: PMC3261372
Mori, H., T.C. Prestwich, M.A. Reid, K.A. Longo, I. Gerin, W.P. Cawthorn, V.S. Susulic, V. Krishnan, A. Greenfield, and O.A. MacDougald. 2012. Secreted frizzled-related protein 5 suppresses adipocyte mitochondrial metabolism through WNT inhibition. Journal of Clinical Investigation 122: 2405-16. PMCID: PMC3386832
Cawthorn, W.P., E.L. Scheller, and O.A. MacDougald. 2012. Adipose tissue stem cells meet preadipocyte commitment: Going back to the future. Journal of Lipid Research 53: 227-246. PMCID: PMC3269153
Cawthorn, W.P., E.L. Scheller, and O.A. MacDougald. 2012. Adipose tissue stem cells: the great WAT hope. Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism 23: 270-7. PMCID: PMC3367055
Du, B., W.P. Cawthorn, Y. Yao, N. Hemati, S. Kampert, A. Su, C. McCoin, D. Broome, and O.A. MacDougald. 2013. The transcription factor paired-related homeobox 1 (Prrx1) inhibits adipogenesis by activating TGFb signaling. Journal of Biological Chemistry 288: 3036-3047. PMCID: PMC3561528.