Zhao, X. et al.
Tight control of gene expression networks required for adipose tissue formation and plasticity is essential for adaptation to energy needs and environmental cues. However, little is known about the mechanisms that orchestrate the dramatic transcriptional changes leading to adipocyte differentiation. We investigated the regulation of nascent transcription by the sumoylation pathway during adipocyte differentiation using SLAMseq and ChIPseq. We discovered that the sumoylation pathway has a dual function in differentiation; it supports the initial downregulation of pre-adipocyte-specific genes, while it promotes the establishment of the mature adipocyte transcriptional program. By characterizing sumoylome dynamics in differentiating adipocytes by mass spectrometry, we found that sumoylation of specific transcription factors like Pparγ/RXR and their co-factors is associated with the transcription of adipogenic genes. Our data demonstrate that the sumoylation pathway coordinates the rewiring of transcriptional networks required for formation of functional adipocytes. This study also provides an in-depth resource of gene transcription dynamics, SUMO-regulated genes and sumoylation sites during adipogenesis.