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New protein may play a role in obesity


There is more to losing weight than diet and exercise, according to investigators the Research Institute at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC). Their study is the first to identify a new receptor protein present on fat cells that may play a role in fat metabolism. The findings, published recently in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, have implications for the many individuals suffering from obesity.

"We have identified a receptor protein on fat cells that when stimulated may increase the amount of lipid stored in fat reservoirs," says MUHC researcher Dr. Katherine Cianflone. "This protein, C5L2, is made by fat tissue, is on the surface of fat cells and binds a specific hormone to increase fat production."

Cianflone, an Associate Professor at McGill University, with colleagues from McGill University and the United Kingdom characterized the binding activities of C5L2. They showed that this protein is a cell surface receptor that binds acylation stimulating protein (ASP), a protein known to affect fat production.

"People who are obese have high levels of ASP," says Cianflone. "One potential key to battling this condition is to disrupt the ASP-C5L2 complex. In the future, we may be able to slow down this fat-producing process by identifying molecules that will block C5L2 activity."

In North America obesity is at epidemic levels in all age groups. A large proportion of Canadians is overweight or obese, and is at risk for heart disease, diabetes, and cardiovascular problems. "The most powerful method to reduce these risks is to reduce their weight," says Cianflone.

"By providing funding for researchers like Dr. Cianflone and her colleagues, CIHR is helping us better understand one of many complex pathways involved in regulating body weight," says Dr. Diane Finegood, Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes which has identified obesity research as its strategic funding priority. "We need to know much more about human biology, as well as human behaviour, if we are to come to grips with the obesity epidemic and its many adverse consequences affecting the health of Canadians."

"The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Québec (HSFQ) recognizes the danger that obesity represents for cardiovascular diseases. It is thus essential for us to financially support research which will make it possible to fight this plague and thus improve the quality of life of the population ", mentioned the general manager of the HSFQ, Mr. Jean Noël.

Christine Zeindler | EurekAlert!
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