Fatty acid binding proteins (FABPs) serve as a type of chaperone, coordinating the transport of fatty acids and other molecules between cells. Researchers have created a "SnapShot" of the functions of these proteins published in the journal Cell, a highly regarded scientific journal covering cell biology.
At least nine types of FABPs, identified by the tissues and organs in which they were first discovered, are known to have numerous roles in lipid metabolism. While they are responsible for important functions in maintaining health, obesity can result in higher levels of these proteins, igniting disease.
"When people are obese, FABPs in different cells and tissues are upregulated, resulting in changes in lipid metabolism and responses," the author said.
Recently the researchers published a proposed mechanism for how increased levels of one of these proteins, FABP4, resulting from higher amounts of fat tissue, promote breast tumor growth.
"Studies from my laboratory demonstrate that FABP family members, especially FABP4 and FABP5, are critical in mediating obesity-associated diseases by regulating immune cell functions," the author said. "Thus, our studies on FABPs not only uncover the underlying mechanisms by which obesity undermines human health, but also provide new targets for novel immunotherapeutic strategies for clinics."
"The SnapShot format offers a great deal of opportunity for creativity and can be printed and pinned above lab benches to jog researchers' memories," the author said. "While our studies open a window to see the important functions of FABP family members in some disease contexts, a lot of questions remain unexplored in this field. I hope this piece will encourage more young scientists to contribute their talents to combat obesity and obesity-associated diseases."
FABP in health and disease
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