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Aurora magazine

A gene turns bad fat into good fat

Fat is often demonized, but it is essential for the body's health. Everything depends on the type of fat: the white cells are the reserve cells, the beige and brown ones have a rich sympathetic innervation. The latter increase the basal metabolism and burn more calories.

Researchers at the University of Utah have discovered a gene that regulates the transition from white fat to beige / brown fat, and vice versa. White fat cells with an overexpressed version of the EFB2 gene have more chances to turn into beige cells. To activate the gene, however, several factors must come into play, not all clear ones. The authors of the study therefore focused on the gene encoding TLE3, a protein from the same region as EFB2.

They discovered that the protein in question acts to inhibit the action of EFB2 on fat cells. To prove the discovery, the scientists deleted TLE3 from some guinea pigs and put them in the cold for several days. In theory, low temperatures basically stimulate the transformation of white cells into beige.

Without the TLE3 brake, the process was maximized: the guinea pigs developed large amounts of beige fat. What were the consequences? Beige fat burns far more calories than white fat. Mice with high levels of this fat have therefore lost weight in the cold and remained stable in the heat. The discovery could help many people with metabolic problems, obesity and type 2 diabetes.