White adipocytes store excess energy in the form of triglycerides, whereas brown and beige adipocytes dissipate energy in the form of heat. This thermogenic function relies on the activation of brown and beige adipocyte-specific gene programmes that are coordinately regulated by adipose-selective chromatin architectures and by a set of unique transcriptional and epigenetic regulators. A number of transcriptional and epigenetic regulators are also required for promoting beige adipocyte biogenesis in response to various environmental stimuli. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms governing the generation and function of brown and beige adipocytes is necessary to allow us to control adipose cell fate and stimulate thermogenesis. This may provide a therapeutic approach for the treatment of obesity and obesity-associated diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
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