MyoD exerts a master transcriptional control over the myogenic differentiation cascade. Here, we study different approaches to induce myogenic transdifferentiation in mature adipocytes utilizing MyoD gene transfer. Organotypic cultures of fat tissue and a long-term culture of in vitro differentiated adipocytes deduced that MyoD provoked morphological changes in mature adipocytes that can be summarized as loss of fat content, acquisition of a fusifiorm shape and eventual fusion with committed neighbor cells. In vivo, MyoD gene transfer into rat interscapular and inguinal fat pads demonstrated that while structural proteins of muscle lineage were expressed, they co-existed with specific adipocyte proteins. Expression of these proteins diminished over time likewise the fat content. The transdifferentiation process initiated by MyoD did not require cell cycle progression and was well tolerated by the fully differentiated and mature adipocytes. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.