Beige adipocytes have a discrete developmental origin and possess notable plasticity in their thermogenic capacity in response to various environmental cues, but the transcriptional machinery controlling beige adipocyte development and thermogenesis remains largely unknown. By analyzing beige adipocyte-specific knockout mice, we identified a transcription factor, forkhead box P4 (FOXP4), that differentially governs beige adipocyte differentiation and activation. Depletion of Foxp4 in progenitor cells impaired beige cell early differentiation. However, we observed that ablation of Foxp4 in differentiated adipocytes profoundly potentiated their thermogenesis capacity upon cold exposure. Of note, the outcome of Foxp4 deficiency on UCP1-mediated thermogenesis was confined to beige adipocytes, rather than to brown adipocytes. Taken together, we suggest that FOXP4 primes beige adipocyte early differentiation, but attenuates their activation by potent transcriptional repression of the thermogenic program.

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