Can fat “feel” fat?

Size-sensing protein controls glucose uptake and storage in fat cells.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have discovered that a molecule which can sense the swelling of fat cells also controls a signaling pathway that allows fat cells to take up and store excess glucose. Mice missing this protein, known as SWELL1, gain less weight (fat) than normal mice on a high-fat diet, but also develop diabetes.

“Although we have created a mouse that is resistant to weight gain by removing the SWELL1 protein, the mouse is not healthy; it has insulin resistance and glucose intolerance,” says Rajan Sah, MD, PhD, assistant professor of internal medicine in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and senior author of the study.

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