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Cell nucleus protein in brown fat cells governs daily control of body temperature
Date:10/27/2013

of body temperature. The all-Penn team of authors represents a broad set expertise, including those who study brown fat physiology, radiology for PET scans of experimental mice, and basic physiologists who ruled out shivering as an explaining mechanism for the findings.

The Penn team concluded that Rev-erb alpha acts as a focal point for dialing body temperature up and down and is required for establishing and maintaining fundamental, body-temperature rhythm, while affording adaptability to respond to environmental demands of unpredictable changes in ambient temperatures.

Role of Brown Fat

Rev-erb alpha's effects were produced mainly by circadian regulation in brown adipose tissue, commonly called brown fat, the body's furnace. Brown fat cells, as opposed to white fat cells, make heat for the body and are thought to have evolved to help mammals cope with the cold. But, their role in generating warmth might also be applied to coping with obesity and diabetes. Brown fat cells are thought to counteract obesity by burning off excess energy stored in lipid, but white fat cells store energy. Indeed, brown fat cells contain many smaller droplets of lipids and the most mitochondria (containing pigmented cytochromes that bind iron) of any cell type, which make them brown. Mitochondria are the cells' energy factories in the form of the molecule ATP.

The mice that are exposed to cold fare dramatically better -- their body temperature goes down less -- early in the morning when Rev-erb alpha is barely present compared to the late afternoon, when Rev-erb alpha is abundant. Deletion of the gene Rev-erbα markedly improves cold tolerance at 5 PM, indicating that tolerance to cold is related to lower levels of the Rev-erb alpha protein.

More specifically, turning on the uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) by cold temperatures is preceded by rapid downregulation of Rev-erbα in brown fat. Rev-erb alpha represses UCP1 in a bro
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Contact: Karen Kreeger
karen.kreeger@uphs.upenn.edu
215-349-5658
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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