Participating groups

Mirko Trajkovski

trajkovski

Figure legend : (Left) Obese and lean mouse model. (Middle) Graphical representation: Mature brown and white fat cells originate from precursor cells (preadipocytes). (Right) Fluorescent imaging of fat cells differentiation. It is not known whether there are different preadipocyte populations between the white and the brown fat, and what regulates the differentiation to either cell type.

Research interests:

Welcome to the Laboratory of Metabolic Diseases. Main interests of our lab are the molecular mechanisms underlining metabolic diseases, primarily obesity and insulin resistance. Mammals have two types of fat: brown and white, with opposing functions. The white fat is an important regulator of the whole body homeostasis that also serves to store energy in form of triglycerides (lipids). The main function of the brown fat is to burn lipids in order to produce heat, a function that can be induced by cold exposure or diet. Recent evidence strongly supports the existence of functional brown fat in adult humans. Promotion of increased brown fat development in humans and experimental mice leads to increased energy expenditure without causing dysfunction in other tissues, suggesting the manipulation of the fat stores as an obvious therapeutic objective. Recent data indicate that miRNAs, a novel class of evolutionarily conserved regulatory RNA molecules, have a key role in modulating cell differentiation and metabolism of different tissue types, including adipocytes (fat cells).

In our research we will identify miRNAs and other factors that regulate BAT and WAT differentiation and function, and their roles in the energy homeostasis. Using mice as model organism, as well as in vitro systems, cohorts of human patients, and linage tracing studies we will determine the origin of the brown fat cells within the white adipose tissue, establish their importance in the regulation of metabolism in vivo, and develop novel strategies to induce brown fat differentiation and function. In addition, discovering ways to exclusively deliver and silence miRNAs in fat/brown fat will allow us not only to investigate the miRNA function specifically in the brown fat, but also to develop new strategies for treatment of dyslipedaemia, diabetes and obesity.

Selected references and further reading:

  • Trajkovski M, Ahmed K, Esau CC, Stoffel M. MyomiR-133 regulates brown fat differentiation through Prdm16. Nature Cell Biol. 2012 Nov 11
  • Trajkovski M, Hausser J, Soutschek J, Bhat B, Akin A, Zavolan M, Heim MH, Stoffel M. MicroRNAs 103 and 107 regulate insulin sensitivity. Nature. 2011 Jun 8;474(7353):649-53

Figure legend: Top to bottom: (Left) Obese and lean mouse model. (Middle) Graphical representation: Mature brown and white fat cells originate from precursor cells (preadipocytes). (Right) Fluorescent imaging of fat cells differentiation. It is not known whether there are different preadipocyte populations between the white and the brown fat, and what regulates the differentiation to either cell type.