Obesity-related diseases are an increasing health problem. Researchers at the University of Oslo have now uncovered a central component of fat metabolism.
It is well known that exercise results in "fat burning." Physical activity and fight-or-flight responses increase the levels of hormones like adrenaline, inducing the metabolism of fat. Until recently, some of the molecular details of exactly how this works have been a mystery.
Fats are stored inside fat cells within specialized compartments known as "lipid droplets" (LD), and their metabolism requires the cooperative action of several different proteins. Not only must these proteins act together, they must also be found within close physical proximity on the surface of the lipid droplets. This clustering of proteins is achieved by what are called anchoring proteins.
The essential role of the anchoring protein OPA1 in lipid metabolism was recently demonstrated by researchers in the Taskén group, and the study published in the EMBO Journal. Dr. Greenberg and colleagues from Harvard and Stanford University underlined on the importance of these findings in a research highlight: "The observation of [OPA1] on the LD surface provides an important step in understanding the regulation of LD biology.."
"It has taken a long time to sort this out." said Group Leader, Professor Kjetil Taskén. "In fact, the publication of this paper summarizes the work of two postdoctoral researchers and two PhD students over a period of more than seven years."
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