Sarcolipin tricks muscle cells into using more energy, burning fat

September 11, 2018, Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
Muthu Periasamy, Ph.D., senior author of the paper and professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute Lake Nona. Credit: Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute

Ever wonder why you burn fat and heat up when you exercise or shiver? Now, researchers at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute (SBP) have shown that sarcolipin, a small peptide only found in muscles, increases muscle energy expenditure and fat oxidization. The study was published today in the journal Cell Reports.

The scientists found sarcolipin forces muscle to use more energy to move calcium by interacting with calcium ion transporter SERCA and making it less efficient. This drives mitochondrial power plants to produce extra energy by burning more fat.

"This study shows a direct relationship between sarcolipin and energy metabolism," says Muthu Periasamy, Ph.D., senior author of the paper and professor at SBP Lake Nona. "This mechanism is intrinsic to muscle and generates heat at the expense of fat burning."

Two factors increase energy expenditure in muscle—exercise and cold. When either happens, intensify calcium cycling and recruit SERCA to move calcium ions into the sarcoplasmic reticulum, a structure within muscle cells that balances calcium levels. This process uses a lot of (ATP) energy because SERCA relies on ATP to move calcium. When sarcolipin binds to SERCA, it uncouples SERCA activity. As a result, it allows ATP consumption but not efficient calcium transport, which causes more energy consumption. The net result is more heat and fat burning.

"When you exercise, your muscle makes more mitochondria and oxidizes more fat," says Periasamy. "Sarcolipin is the missing link. It's recruited during exercise or cold exposure and alters cycling to increase mitochondria biogenesis and ."

In the study, the team found that animals without sarcolipin had fewer mitochondria and had trouble burning fat, accumulating more in their muscle (called lipotoxicity), which is a common cause of insulin resistance. However, those with more sarcolipin boosted their concentration of mitochondria and showed increased fat oxidation.

"When we feed mice with more sarcolipin a high-fat diet, they don't accumulate any fat in their , and they don't develop insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes," says Santosh Maurya, Ph.D., first author of the paper and staff scientist at SBP Lake Nona.

Could sarcolipin be used to help people suffering from obesity and/or type 2 diabetes?

"Researchers have already shown that extreme obesity reduces sarcolipin function," says Periasamy. "There might be a therapeutic window to increase sarcolipin recruitment to burn more . This strategy could help people with metabolic conditions, as well as those who have difficulty exercising.

"We have more SERCA pumps than we need. Some are bound by sarcolipin, but it only binds around 25 percent of SERCA pumps at any one time. We would need to find drugs that increase efficiency of sarcolipin uncoupling SERCA."

Explore further: Researchers find protein induces non-shivering muscle heat generation

More information: Cell Reports (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2018.08.036 , http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(18)31307-X

Related Stories

Researchers find protein induces non-shivering muscle heat generation

September 10, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers working in Ohio has found evidence that suggests that the protein sarcolipin, normally a calcium regulator pump, also serves as a means of causing muscles to generate body heat independent ...

Heat therapy boosts mitochondrial function in muscles

July 31, 2018
A new study finds that long-term heat therapy may increase mitochondrial function in the muscles. The discovery could lead to new treatments for people with chronic illness or disease. The study—the first of its kind in ...

Researchers rethink how 'beige' fat cells burn calories

November 13, 2017
It has been known for decades that low temperatures can trigger specialized fat cells to burn energy to produce heat, but in a new study, UC San Francisco researchers have discovered a new heat-producing pathway in fat cells ...

Neuroprotective molecule could improve memory and cognition, reduce Alzheimer's degradation

May 10, 2018
A Purdue University graduate and a Purdue Research Park of Northwest Indiana (NWI) startup have published a research study in Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry Letters that identifies a small molecule SERCA activator that ...

Recommended for you

Separated entry and exit doors for calcium keep energy production smooth in the powerhouses of heart cells

September 18, 2018
Stress demands the heart to work harder and faster. To keep pace, the muscle must make its fuel at an accelerated rate. Bursts of calcium entering mitochondria—the cell's powerhouses—normally help control energy output, ...

First gut bacteria may have lasting effect on ability to fight chronic diseases

September 18, 2018
New research showing that the first bacteria introduced into the gut have a lasting impact may one day allow science to adjust microbiomes—the one-of-a-kind microbial communities that live in our gastrointestinal tracts—to ...

A new defender for your sense of smell

September 18, 2018
New research from the Monell Center increases understanding of a mysterious sensory cell located in the olfactory epithelium, the patch of nasal tissue that contains odor-detecting olfactory receptor cells. The findings suggest ...

Small molecule plays big role in weaker bones as we age

September 18, 2018
With age, expression of a small molecule that can silence others goes way up while a key signaling molecule that helps stem cells make healthy bone goes down, scientists report.

Sperm quality study updates advice for couples trying to conceive

September 17, 2018
Could doctors at fertility clinics be giving men bad advice? Dr. Da Li and Dr. XiuXia Wang, who are clinician-researchers at the Center for Reproductive Medicine of Shengjing Hospital in Shenyang in northeast China, think ...

Antioxidant found to be effective in treating mice with osteoarthritis

September 14, 2018
A team of researchers in Belgium and the Netherlands has found that feeding a common antioxidant to test mice was effective in treating osteoarthritis. In their paper published in Science Translational Medicine, the group ...

2 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

EnricM
not rated yet Sep 12, 2018
The key question:

Is it available for gymrats ? Is so, where can I get a few kg of this stuff ;)
MikeGroovy
not rated yet Sep 14, 2018
Would be great if it can prevent muscle atrophy in astronauts and bed ridden folks recovering from injuries.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.