Protein enhancer factor alpha regulates body weight

  A protein called enhancer factor alpha regulates weight in mice, a discovery that could lead to new treatments for metabolic disorders .
  Previous studies have shown that enhancer alpha is associated with cancer because it binds and activates the anaplastic lymphoma kinase receptor (ALK). ALK is a molecule that, when mutated, causes a variety of human cancers, including childhood neuroblastoma, B-cell lymphoma, and some lung cancers.
  To better understand enhancer alpha and its role in the body, scientists at Yale University conducted a more detailed study of it. Looking at laboratory mice, they found that enhancer alpha is mainly expressed in cells called agouti-related peptide (AgRP) neurons, which are known to promote starvation.
  ”AgRP neurons are very important for feeling hunger, without them you wouldn’t eat, you would starve, suggesting that enhancer alpha is involved in metabolism,” said Tamas Horvath, author of the study. “The
  study also found that , fasting increased enhancer alpha expression in AgRP neurons, further evidence for a link between enhancer alpha and metabolism. “Fasting appears to be a signal to make more enhancer alpha,” explained Joseph Schlesinger, the study’s senior author and co-director of the Yale Institute for Cancer Biology
  . Research was carried out. The results showed that the mice without enhancer alpha were leaner and more physically active, but did not eat significantly more food than normal mice, whether on a normal or high-fat diet, which may be due to their thinning s reason.
  Schlesinger explained that when faced with food shortages, mice typically conserve energy and reduce physical activity, but during fasting periods, mice without enhancer alpha remained very active: “We think enhancer alpha is in the body One of its effects is to slow down your metabolism when you’re starved of food. It’s like saying ‘you don’t have food, don’t burn that much energy’.”
  The researchers show that enhancer factor alpha’s link to metabolism suggests that inhibiting or enhancing enhancer factor alpha’s effects may be useful in a number of diseases. For example, drugs that inhibit enhancer factor alpha (as do some cancer drugs that target ALK) could be used to treat metabolic disorders. Boosting the protein’s effects may provide a treatment option for people with anorexia, cachexia, or persistent loss of appetite due to drug side effects or injury.