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Medical News & Perspectives
October 4, 2006

Fat and Cholesterol Regulator Identified

JAMA. 2006;296(13):1579. doi:10.1001/jama.296.13.1579

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, have identified an important modulator of fat and cholesterol production, a finding that might help scientists develop strategies to prevent and treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and type 2 diabetes (Yang F et al. Nature. doi:10.1038/nature04942 [published online ahead of print June 21, 2006]).

In experiments in humans and roundworms, the researchers found that a subunit of a large protein involved in gene transcription binds to and controls certain proteins that are called into action after a meal is consumed. These proteins, called sterol regulatory element binding proteins (SREBPs), turn on genes involved in cholesterol and lipid production. Overeating coupled with lack of exercise may disturb the action and regulation of SREBPs and result in overproduction of cholesterol and fat.