Friday, August 12, 2011
A new protein that controls obesity
Obesity is on the rise. Our diets aren’t healthy (or low in calories) and we are increasingly sedentary. Many scientists are researching how to control obesity and how to prevent obesity-related diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers. A new study by Zhang et al (Journal of Biological Chemistry 286:28396 August 12, 2011) identifies another player in the regulation of body mass and obesity. This protein, beta-arrestin 1, appears to regulate the expression of genes involved in metabolism and in inflammation. Since both are linked to many obesity-related diseases, these investigators investigated its role in obesity. Elimination of the gene increases body mass and metabolic dysregulation in mice fed a high fat diet. Conversely, overexpression of beta-arrestin 1 reversed these effects and restored normal weight, even in the presence of excess calories. While this is far from a magic pill to control weight and obesity, it does provide insight into how the body regulates weight and its metabolism.