White adipose tissue stores excess calories as fat that can be released for use in other organs during fasting. Mammals also have small amounts of brown adipose tissue, which primarily acts as an effective fat burner for the production of heat. Now, researchers from the University of Southern Denmark and colleagues have uncovered the mechanism by which white fat cells from humans are reprogrammed to become browner. Browning of white adipose tissue increases the energy consumption of the body and therefore constitutes a potential strategy for future treatment of obesity. The challenge is to reprogram the energy-storing white fat cells into so-called "brite" (brown-in-white) fat cells in the body's white adipose tissue and thus make adipose tissue burn off excess energy as heat instead of storing it. The research team from the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology headed by Professor Susanne Mandrup published a paper entitled "Browning of Human Adipocytes Requires KLF11 and Reprogramming of PPAR Super-Enhancers" online on December 12, 2014 in Genes & Development that describes their results from working with "brite" fat cells. "We have investigated how the genome of white adipocytes is reprogrammed during browning using advanced genome sequencing technologies. We stimulated browning in human white adipocytes by a drug used to treat type II diabetes and compared white and "brite" fat cells. This showed that "brite" fat cells have distinct gene programs which, when active, make these cells particularly energy-consuming," says Dr. Mandrup .
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