It has been an absolute pleasure (for the majority of my adult life) to have had the opportunity to immerse my thoughts in the study of intermediary metabolism, to have been engaged in metabolic research involving alcohol metabolism, and then to have had the privilege of teaching this material to college students with a curiosity of physiological chemistry.
Aside from the few remarks below, no significant effort is made to explain the importance of these metabolic pathways. The first pathway, shown below, describes the catabolism of carbohydrate (glucose) to lactate via anerobic glycolysis, which by definition occurs under anaerobic conditions. The next metabolic pathway, shown below, is essential for the synthesis of urea (ureagenesis) from various nitrogen sources. The next metabolic pathway, shown below, describes the oxidation (burning) of fatty acids (fat). The diagram below depicts the basic interrealtionship between amino acids (protein), triglycerides (fat), and carbohydrates (sugars).
The next metabolic pathway, shown below, describes the production of ketone bodies (ketogenesis) from fatty acids. The last diagram, shown below, pretty much explains why I took all the big words and complicated diagrams out of my Smart Weight Loss book.
Researchers have uncovered a new molecular pathway for stimulating the body to burn fat – a discovery that could help fight obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
In a study published in the journal Genes & Development, a team led by researchers from the Department of Biochemistry focus on a protein known as folliculin and its role in regulating the activity of fat cells.
Scientists recently discovered a new type of fat tissue with characteristics somewhere between healthy brown fat and the not-so-healthy white kind. In collaboration with Vincent Giguere, the team bred mice to have fat cells that did not produce folliculin. The breakthrough builds on existing knowledge about two key proteins – PGC-1? and ERR? – and their involvement in regulating mitochondria in fat cells.
By pinpointing the folliculin pathway, the work has potentially opened the way for new medications to be developed that will stimulate the ‘browning’ process.


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Below are a few metabolic pathways (thousands exist) that remind me of a very exciting research and teaching career.
Not a pathway we spend too much time thinking about on a daily basis until it is time to appreciate the vital role our kidneys and liver play in the elimination of nitrogen in the form of urea. I have always found it fascinating that there are so many different ways to essentially make the same point.
By knocking out the gene that produces folliculin in fat cells in mice, the researchers triggered a series of biomolecular signals that switched the cells from storing fat to burning it. Brown fat gets its colour from iron-rich mitochondria, an abundance of which is a sign that a cell is in metabolic overdrive. So-called beige fat is capable of behaving like brown fat in response to certain stimuli such as exposure to cold. They then fed normal mice and folliculin-deficient mice with a high-fat, junk food-like diet over 14 weeks. The researchers, led by graduate student Ming Yan, and Etienne Audet-Walsh, a postdoctoral fellow, found that removing folliculin gives the enzyme known as AMPK free rein to activate these proteins, boosting the number and work rate of the mitochondria in the fat cell. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page.
To all my former Biological Sciences 170 students who happen upon this page - thank you for sharing those memorable times. Essentially, your lungs and heart are trying their best to deliver and replenish the additional oxygen used and needed during intense muscular activity.
Seriously, it is critical that the liver makes ketone bodies whenever blood insulin levels are low. The principal role of brown fat is to burn energy to produce heat, which helps keep our body temperature constant.


The more active these cells are, the less likely we are to accumulate unhealthy fat deposits that lead to obesity. Normal mice gained weight rapidly, whereas folliculin-deficient mice remained slim and did not suffer the same elevated insulin and triglyceride levels. The result is a metabolic reprogramming of fat tissue, turning cells from fat storage units into fat burning engines. Not much room here to discuss why it happens the way it does, but note that pyruvate must enter the mitochondrion to eventually get metabolized to phosphoenol pyruvate (PEP). Since the discovery of beige fat, the challenge has been to find ways to convert white fat cells into energy-burning beige ones.
By measuring rates of oxygen consumption and CO2 production, the researchers found the folliculin-deficient mice were burning more fat. In an unfed state, all reactions between phosphoenol pyruvate (PEP) and glucose in liver tissue are reversible.
At the end of the trial, these mice had smaller white fat cells and less white fat tissue overall. The extra energy they were producing made them better at tolerating cold temperatures, too. Also interesting to note is that the lactate used for glucose production in liver tissue is generated in muscle tissue from anaerobic glycolysis?



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