A protein very much present in human body that regulates protein production can be tweaked to also control fat levels, said a new study.
Known as Maf1, the protein is found in worms and a version of it also exists in humans to regulate protein production in the cell. Experts say that tweaking the cell to also control fat cells production may answer the question of controlling the fat storage in the body or obesity.
Sean Curran, assistant professor at the USC Davis School of Gerontology explained that so far people have only studied Maf1 in single cells, where it was known to regulate protein synthesis, but no one looked at its effect on the whole organism before.
“A protein with such a function would offer a new target for pharmaceuticals to regulate fat,” said corresponding author Sean Curran, assistant professor at University of Southern California Davis.
“We have known about Maf1 for over a decade, but so far people have only studied it in single cells, where it is known to regulate protein synthesis,” Curran said and added, “No one really looked at its effect on the whole organism before.”
For the study, the researchers tweaked the amount of Maf1 in C. elegans, a transparent worm often used as a model by biologists and found that adding in a single extra copy of gene that expresses Maf1 decreased stored lipids by 34 percent, while reducing Maf1 levels increased stored lipids by 94 percent.
Curran said that Maf1 plays a significant role in an animal by altering how they store fat and a protein with such a function would offer a new target for pharmaceuticals to regulate fat.
Deborah Johnson, graduate student of USC who assisted Curran said that Maf1 changes lipid metabolism in cancer cells, raising the possibility that it could be used in tumor cell suppression. The study has been published in Cell Reports.