University of California, San Francisco (UCSF)

Emerging Role of Casein Kinase 2 in Beige/Brown Fat Development and Metabolism

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Obesity and its metabolic consequences continue to be among the most important biomedical challenges in the U.S. and worldwide today. Nearly one-third of adults (33.8%) and 17% (or 12.5 million) of children and adolescents are obese in the U.S.. In the absence of improved therapies, further increases are expected in the number of serious conditions closely associated with obesity. All anti-obesity medications currently approved by the FDA act to repress energy intake, either by suppressing appetite or by inhibiting intestinal fat absorption. However, due to side effects including depression, oily bowel movements and steatorrhea, there is an urgent need for alternative approaches. My project aims to elucidate pharmacological target to counteract obesity by the completely opposite method, namely, via increasing energy expenditure. Two types of fat tissue exist in mammals. Brown adipose tissue (BAT) is a specialized adipose tissue that dissipate energy for heat generation, whereas white adipose tissue (WAT) functions as storage of excess energy. Studies suggest that loss of BAT is linked to decreased energy expenditure and obesity in humans; thus increasing energy expenditure through regeneration of BAT could be effective to counteract obesity. I employed quantitative mass spectrometry to map signaling patterns in BAT and WAT and identified protein kinases specific to WAT. This can be a plausible drug target to convert the WAT to BAT-like state thus increase its energy expenditure.