University of Edinburgh (U-E) researchers have found that the protein invadolysin, essential for healthy cell division, is present in lipid droplets — the parts of cells used to store fat.
The study also found that lower levels of invadolysin were linked to reduced amounts of fat deposits.
The findings could ultimately help scientists better understand obesity-related complications, which can include diabetes, blood clotting and heart disease.
“What we would like to understand is whether its presence is related to obesity, and if so, whether the protein’s activity aggravates obesity and its consequences. Understanding its role will help us better understand how the body stores fat,” she said.
Invadolysin was first identified by Heck’s lab in fruit flies. The latest study looked at the protein in human cells, pinpointing its presence in the part of cells used to store fat.
The researchers also found that when invadolysin was absent in fruit fly larvae, fat storage was impaired.
Further studies will look at how the protein affects metabolism to better understand its role in obesity-related disorders.
These findings were published in the Journal of Cell Science.