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Jul 10, 2007

Investigators Switch White Fat into Brown Fat in Mice

  • Researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute identified a  master switch in mice for the production of brown fat, a type of adipose tissue that generates heat and counters obesity caused by overeating.

    Brown fat is controlled by a gene and protein known as PRDM16 that is not in white fat. In the study, the investigators inserted the PRDM16 genes into precursors of white fat, which were then implanted under the skin of mice. They found that the PRDM16 gene coaxed those cells to generate brown fat cells.

    Further analysis showed that PRDM16 triggered the formation of brown fat cells in part by turning on a metabolic pathway controlled by proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1alpha (PGC-1alpha) and the gene UCP1, which allows cells to release large amounts of energy as heat.

    The research is published in the July issue of Cell Metabolism.



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