Research ArticleMetabolism

A VASP-Rac–Soluble Guanylyl Cyclase Pathway Controls cGMP Production in Adipocytes

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Science Signaling  28 Aug 2012:
Vol. 5, Issue 239, pp. ra62
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002867

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Limiting the Formation of Brown Fat Cells

The second messenger cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) is required for the differentiation of brown adipocytes, which dissipate energy by generating heat (unlike white adipocytes, which store energy). Vasodilator-stimulated phosphoprotein (VASP) is a downstream effector of cGMP, and Jennissen et al. found that VASP participated in a negative feedback loop that decreased the production of cGMP. Brown and white preadipocytes from VASP-deficient mice showed enhanced differentiation. Furthermore, VASP-deficient mice showed enhanced responses to cold exposure (indicative of increased brown adipose tissue function), and their white adipose tissue showed evidence of “browning,” a process in which white adipocytes acquire the characteristics of brown adipocytes. These results suggest that VASP could be pharmacologically targeted to enhance metabolism by stimulating the energy-dissipating activity of brown adipose tissue and making white adipose tissue behave like brown.

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