The vitamin-C-synthesizing enzyme senescent marker protein 30 (SMP30) is a cold resistance gene in Drosophila, and vitamin C concentration increases in brown adipose tissue post-cold exposure. However, the roles of SMP30 in thermogenesis are unknown. Here, we tested the molecular mechanism of thermogenesis using wild-type (WT) and vitamin C-deficient SMP30-knockout (KO) mice. SMP30-KO mice gained more weight than WT mice without a change in food intake in response to short-term high-fat diet feeding. Indirect calorimetry and cold-challenge experiments indicated that energy expenditure is lower in SMP30-KO mice, which is associated with decreased thermogenesis in adipose tissues. Therefore, SMP30-KO mice do not lose weight during cold exposure, whereas WT mice lose weight markedly. Mechanistically, the levels of serum FGF21 were notably lower in SMP30-KO mice, and vitamin C supplementation in SMP30-KO mice recovered FGF21 expression and thermogenesis, with a marked reduction in body weight during cold exposure. Further experiments revealed that vitamin C activates PPARα to upregulate FGF21. Our findings demonstrate that SMP30-mediated synthesis of vitamin C activates the PPARα/FGF21 axis, contributing to the maintenance of thermogenesis in mice.
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