Texas researchers identify fat-creating enzyme

DALLAS Drug developers have discovered that a certain protein in the body stimulates the formation of fat cells, according to a report on DrugResearcher.com.

Jonathan Graff and his colleagues at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Texas, who have been researching to find the cause of obesity, concluded that a collection of 1441 amino acids called Tripeptidyl peptidase II is the root of the problem.

Though the amino acids have been claimed to cause people to feel hungry, the latest research suggests it may be much more deeply involved in causing obesity.

The work was first conducted in worms, where the team found that TPPII regulates the equilibrium the worm maintains through metabolism. RNA interference of the target decreased worm fat stores independently of feeding behavior. This occurred in the worm’s intestines—the site of fat storage.

The process by which this happens was then investigated in mammalian cell cultures. TPPII was found to stimulate the development of fat cells from stem protein cells, a process known as adipogenesis. The protease enzyme TPPII breaks down other proteins—preadipocytes—to release energy, so Graff and his team modified the protein making it inactive. They then concluded that TPPII could still increase adipogenesis of the preadipocytes, creating fat cells.

Mice with dysfunctional versions of the gene in both chromosomes didn’t survive, but those with only one insertion in the DNA sequence survived and were thinner than normal mice, despite eating the same.

The authors hope that TPPII could be subjugated as a drug target to help fight increasing levels of obesity, though skeptics may say the only way to fight obesity is through proper diet and exercise.

Login or Register to post a comment.