[Pinn Hall 1-17] Hosted by Thurl Harris, Sheila Collins is a Professor of the Integrative Metabolism Program, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.
Dr. Collins’s laboratory is interested in the biochemical mechanisms that regulate body weight. Activation of the adrenaline receptors, specifically the members of the beta-adrenergic receptor (beta-AR) family, provides the major stimulus for the hydrolysis and release of stored lipids. They are also key drivers of a process called “nonshivering thermogenesis” in brown fat. Brown fat cells are specialized cells rich in mitochondria and largely defined by their ability to express the mitochondrial uncoupling protein UCP1, which allows the dissipation of the proton gradient in the inner mitochondrial membrane to yield heat at the expense of ATP production.
By understanding the beta-ARs on fat cells, their signal transduction properties and how they are regulated, we hope to be able to find a way to increase energy expenditure in fat in the fight against obesity and the devastating diseases that accompany it, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension.