Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long noncoding RNAs control development of fat cells

Date:
February 13, 2013
Source:
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research
Summary:
Researchers report that 10 long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) play a vital role in the regulation of white fat cells. When each of these lncRNAs is individually knocked down, fat precursor cells fail to mature into white fat cells and have significantly reduced lipid droplets compared with white fat cells with unmodified lncRNA function.

Whitehead Institute researchers have identified a previously unrecognized layer of genetic regulation that is necessary for the generation of undesirable white fat cells. When this regulation is disrupted, white fat cells are unable to accumulate lipid droplets or mature from their precursors.

"We're trying to figure out what the mechanism is -- what it takes to make fat cells," says Whitehead Founding Member Harvey Lodish, who is also a professor of biology and a professor of bioengineering at MIT. "The obvious reason we're interested in this is because a lot of people have too many of them."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity -- having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher -- is a serious healthcare and economic problem in the United States. More than one-third of American adults are obese, a condition that can lead to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke. In 2008 obesity-related issues were estimated to cost $147 billion.

All of these problems are caused by an overabundance of white fat cells -- adipose tissue cells that store excess energy as fat or lipid droplets. Unlike white fat cells, brown fat cells, which are most prevalent in babies and have a reduced presence in adults, use lipids as fuel to maintain a stable, warm body temperature. Understanding how both types of fat cells are formed and maintained may one day lead to anti-obesity therapies.

In the quest to understand fat-cell generation and maintenance, the Lodish lab scanned mouse fat cells to determine which of the cells' long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are active. Of the 175 identified, 10 lncRNAs were found to play significant roles in these cells.

Residing within what was once dubbed "junk DNA," lncRNAs have recently gained fame as important gene expression regulators that modify chromatin, enhance transcription, and promote messenger RNA (mRNA) degradation, as well as through other methods that have yet to be elucidated. Recently, the Lodish lab identified lncRNAs as playing a vital role in regulating programmed cell death during one of the final stages of red blood cell differentiation.

To determine the function of the identified active lncRNAs in fat cells, Lei Sun, a former postdoctoral researcher in the Lodish lab, and Loyal Goff from Harvard University and the Broad Institute, knocked each lncRNA down individually in fat precursor cells and analyzed the results. When 10 of these lncRNAs had reduced expression, the cells did not turn on the genes that are usually expressed in mature white fat cells, and the cells had significantly smaller lipid droplets than white fat cells with normal lncRNA expression. Their work is reported in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"This is the first study showing the importance of lncRNAs for the regulation of adipogeneis," says Sun, who is now an assistant professor at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. "Our understanding of lncRNA function in these cells is still incomplete, but in the future, this line of research may reveal new pathways that obesity drugs could target."

This research was supported by National Institutes of Health (DK047618, DK068348, 5P01HL066105, and 1DP2OD00667), National Science Foundation, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, Agency of Science, Technology and Research, Singapore, Searle Scholars Program, Smith Family Awards Program, and Merkin Family Foundation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. The original article was written by Nicole Giese Rura. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Sun, L. A. Goff, C. Trapnell, R. Alexander, K. A. Lo, E. Hacisuleyman, M. Sauvageau, B. Tazon-Vega, D. R. Kelley, D. G. Hendrickson, B. Yuan, M. Kellis, H. F. Lodish, J. L. Rinn. Long noncoding RNAs regulate adipogenesis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1222643110

Cite This Page:

Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "Long noncoding RNAs control development of fat cells." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213131847.htm>.
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. (2013, February 13). Long noncoding RNAs control development of fat cells. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213131847.htm
Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. "Long noncoding RNAs control development of fat cells." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213131847.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Artificial Sweetener Could Promote Diabetes

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Doctors once thought artificial sweeteners lacked the health risks of sugar, but a new study says they can impact blood sugar levels the same way. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

Ebola Vaccine Trial Gets Underway at Oxford University

AFP (Sep. 17, 2014) A healthy British volunteer is to become the first person to receive a new vaccine for the Ebola virus after US President Barack Obama called for action against the epidemic and warned it was "spiralling out of control." Duration: 01:02 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Obesity Rates Steady Even As Americans' Waistlines Expand

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) Researchers are puzzled as to why obesity rates remain relatively stable as average waistlines continue to expand. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins