A new understanding of how glucose makes you fat

May 31, 2018 by Remekca Owens, UT Southwestern Medical Center
A new understanding of how glucose makes you fat
Drs. Keun Ryu (left) and W. Lee Kraus examined individual compartments inside cells that house NAD+ molecules to determine how they activate genes that make fat cells. Credit: UT Southwestern

Glucose is the energy that fuels cells, and the body likes to store glucose for later use. But too much glucose can contribute to obesity, and scientists have long wanted to understand what happens within a cell to tip the balance.

To solve this riddle, researchers at UT Southwestern's Cecil H. and Ida Green Center for Reproductive Biology Sciences examined specialized compartments inside the cell to reveal the role of a molecule termed NAD+ in turning on genes that make .

A Google search for NAD+ reveals that the molecule is found in every cell of the body and that some scientists believe that boosting its production may be tied to better health and to the slowing down of the aging process.

UT Southwestern biologists examined individual compartments inside that house NAD+ molecules to determine how they control genes that are essential to the fat-storing process—knowledge that could help in a wide range of ailments, including metabolic disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, inflammation and aging, and cancer.

"This compartmentalization ends up having profound effects on gene expression in the nucleus, as well as metabolism in the cytoplasm," (the jellylike substance outside the cell's nucleus), said Dr. W. Lee Kraus, Director of the Green Center and senior author on the research. "We found that these processes play key roles in and in ."

"The previous thinking in the field was that NAD+ was evenly distributed throughout cells and moved freely between different subcellular compartments," said Dr. Kraus, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pharmacology. "We showed that NAD+ is actually compartmentalized—there are separate nuclear and cytoplasmic pools of NAD+ whose levels change under certain cellular conditions."

The research team's breakthrough is reported in the journal Science.

Accounting for the levels of NAD+ biosynthesis separately rather than in their totality helped increase the understanding of the biology involved, said first author Dr. Keun Ryu, a postdoctoral researcher in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

"Our study provides a new understanding of NAD+ biology," he said.

Explore further: New studies unravel mysteries of how PARP enzymes work

More information: Keun Woo Ryu et al. Metabolic regulation of transcription through compartmentalized NAD+biosynthesis, Science (2018). DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5780

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4 comments

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JamesG
not rated yet May 31, 2018
Right. Now shut up and get back to work on that pill. It's not a breakthrough until you can promise something usable is on the way.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet May 31, 2018
That pill already exists. It's called excercise and not eating junk.
Kron
not rated yet May 31, 2018
If it were only that simple a_p. Healthy diets and clean environments plus physical activity may reduce illness chances, people living healthy still get sick and die. If thing were as simple as you state we wouldn't need medicine, we'd do fine with kinesiologists and nutritionists only, unfortunately the world we live in is filled with radiation, pollution, detrimental microorganisms and parasites, and our own genes we carry are sometimes faulty and leave us fighting a losing battle for survival.

I get that your comment was a snark at JamesG's rude comment towards the studies authors, but we know that health doesn't boil directly down to food and excersise.

Although JamesG is saying it in a rather rude way, he is right, we do need gene editing medicines that can correct cellular function. We need to learn to correct incorrect genetic coding, to hack and alter living organisms dna. I know the day is coming, I hope to be around for it.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Jun 01, 2018
If it were only that simple a_p. Healthy diets and clean environments plus physical activity may reduce illness chances, people living healthy still get sick and die.

I didn't say it was a cure-all, but excercise and a reasonable diet are two things you have total control over.
I find this much more responsible than just knowingly acting against your own interests and then shouting for others to give you pill to fix everything you've done to yourself.

radiation, pollution, detrimental microorganisms and parasites

These are things we have no control over (or only to a very limited degree) - and have absolutely no bearing on the article.

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