Protein's Role in Fat Metabolism February 11, 2013
Protein's Role in Fat Metabolism February 11, 2013

A team of scientists from the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute have recently discovered that a protein malfunction in some fat cells may be linked to obesity.

The team believe that when a protein called p62 is lost or damaged in fat tissue, the metabolic properties of this fat tissue change. Without p62, the body is more inclined to produce white adipose tissue (“bad fat”) and store it, rather than brown adipose tissue (“good fat”), which is more readily used as energy.

The researchers compared mice with normal p62 levels to specially bred mice that lacked the p62 protein in fat tissue. The p62-lacking mice became obese, diabetic and developed metabolic syndrome.

Further research showed that p62 blocks the enzyme ERK, which is more active in white fat tissue, and triggered another enzyme called p38, which is less active in brown fat. As a result, they believe p62 plays a vital role in the metabolic process of fat.

Although the initial findings are preliminary and further research is needed, according to the research team this discovery is very encouraging, since fat tissue is much more easily accessible than other parts of the body for drug therapies.

Sanford/Burnham Research

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