A Protein That Boosts Brown Fat

Targeting such proteins that convert white fat into brown fat could one day help people lose weight without exercise.

AsianScientist (Feb. 10, 2015) – Scientists have discovered a protein which can convert white fat into brown fat even at room temperature. Their results have been published in Molecular Cell.

Unlike white fat which contains a single lipid droplet, brown fat cells contain multiple lipid droplets and have more mitochondria, giving them their eponymous brown color. While white fat acts as a store of energy, brown fat’s main function appears to be the regulation of body temperature through a process known as thermogenesis.

Led by Assistant Professor Dr. Roger Wong Hoi-fung at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), a team of researchers used a high-throughput screening method to identify Zfp516, a protein that is upregulated upon exposure to low temperatures. They found that transgenic mice with higher levels of the Zfp516 protein gained 30 percent less weight than counterparts when fed on a high-fat diet. Furthermore, over-expression of Zfp516 promoted the conversion of white fat into the more metabolically active brown fat even at room temperatures.

The authors believe that activating this protein has the potential to help increase brown fat without chilling and promote without exercising. This new discovery is part of the larger research effort of a continuous study of regulation of lipid metabolism and therapeutic treatment of metabolic diseases including obesity, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The article can be found at: Dempersmier et al. (2015) Cold-Inducible Zfp516 Activates UCP1 Transcription to Promote Browning of White Fat and Development of Brown Fat.


Source: The University of Hong Kong.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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