Life- style change and anti-inflammatory interventions have only transient effects in obesity. It is not clear how benefits obtained by these treatments can be maintained longer term, especially during sustained high caloric intake. Constitutive ablation of the activin receptor ALK7 in adipose tissue enhances catecholamine signaling and lipolysis in adipocytes, and protects mice from diet-induced obesity.
In this study, we investigated the consequences of conditional ALK7 ablation in adipocytes of adult mice with pre- existing obesity. Although ALK7 deletion had little effect on its own, it synergized strongly with a transient switch to low- fat diet (life-style change) or anti-inflammatory treatment (Na-salicylate), resulting in enhanced lipolysis, increased energy expenditure, and reduced adipose tissue mass and body weight gain, even under sustained high caloric intake. By themselves, diet- switch and salicylate had only a temporary effect on weight gain. Mechanistically, combination of ALK7 ablation with either treatment strongly enhanced the levels of β3-AR, the main adrenergic receptor for catecholamine stimulation of lipolysis, and C/EBPα, an upstream regulator of β3-AR expression. These results suggest that inhibition of ALK7 can be combined with simple interventions to produce longer- lasting benefits in obesity.
Yanchen Ma obtained a PhD in Cell Biology in December 2020, from the School of Life Science, Xiamen University, China, under the supervision of Prof. Ying Chen. The title of her PhD thesis is “A GPR17-cAMP-lactate signaling axis in oligodendrocytes regulates whole-body metabolism”. She is joining the neuroscience team to unravel novel mechanisms of p75ntr subcellular localization and signaling.
Pawanrat Tangseefa, a.k.a. Queenie, obtained a PhD in Medicine/Physiology in May 2020 from the University of Adelaide, Australia, under supervision of Prof. Andrew Zannettino. The title of her PhD thesis is “The role of osteoblasts-mTORC1 in the regulation of glucose metabolism”. She is joining the metabolism team to elucidate the mechanistic basis of the metabolic effects of mutations in the ACVR1C gene found in the human population.
Meng Xie took a PhD in 2014 at McGill University, Montréal, Canada. His doctoral thesis was on studies of the regulation of lipid metabolism in the dauer larvae of Caenorhabditis elegans. With a prestigious EMBO fellowship, he then undertook postdoctoral studies at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden, under the guidance of A/Prof. Andrei Chagin. During his postdoc tenure, he worked on several projects, including studies on the mediation of phenotypic plasticity of body size and craniofacial shape by amino acid sensing, and evolution of long bone secondary ossification center and regulation of craniofacial cartilage during development. He has an impressive research output, with articles in Cell Metabolism, PNAS, Nature and eLife. Meng will conduct research at the new units at PKU and CIBR, and assist in training of students and lab management tasks.
Yunxi Zhang has a Bachelor in Veterinary Medicine from Beijing University Of Agriculture and several internships, including the Institute of Biophysics at the Chinese Academy Of Science. She joins the CIBR unit to take care of our mouse colonies including genotyping and colony management.
PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and lab technicians are being recruited for the new laboratories at Peking University and Chinese Institute For Brain Research.
Work in the unit will focus on understanding the functions and signaling mechanisms of neuronal growth factors and their receptors in neuronal function and connectivity, neurodegeneration and in metabolic regulation, for the development of better therapies to diseases of the nervous system and metabolic disorders.
Candidates with expertise in cellular, molecular or structural biology, drug development, neurobiology, metabolism, adipose tissue and mouse genetics are encouraged to apply.
Applications, including CV, list of publications and statement of research interests should be sent by email to Prof. Carlos Ibanez: Applicants should arrange to have at least two confidential letters of reference sent independently by referees to this email address.
Yiqiao Wang took a PhD in neuroscience in 2019 at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. His doctoral thesis was on studies of the early specification and diversification of sensory neurons in the peripheral nervous system, exploring different aspects of developmental neurobiology, from early progenitors to axon growth and terminal selection of synaptic partners. During this research, he made use of various in vitro and in vivo models and technologies, using mouse genetics, molecular cloning, cell culture, histology work and did few animal behavior experiments. His work resulted in several articles in journals such as Cell Reports, Scientific Reports, Nature Communications and Development. Yiqiao will conduct research at the new units at PKU and CIBR, and assist in training of students and lab management tasks.
Starting in January 2020, new laboratories dedicated to studies of growth factor receptor signaling and physiology will be established at the McGovern Institute of the School of Life Sciences in Peking University, and the Chinese Institute for Brain Research in Beijing, China. The research activities of the PKU and CIBR labs will run in parallel to and complement with those ongoing at the laboratories in Karolinska Institute and National University of Singapore. The initial focus of the Beijing labs will be on studies of death receptor signaling in neurodegeneation, metabolic regulation by activin receptors, control of brain microvasculature integrity and function by neurotrophin receptors, and a drug discovery program targeted to these receptors. PhD students, postdoctoral fellows and lab technicians are being recruited for the new Beijing laboratories. For details and how to apply, visit the Open Positions page.