Dr George Mcilroy and Elisa Persiani
Defining the role of seipin in the central regulation of energy metabolism
We are interested in the functions of a protein called seipin, whose loss in humans causes a severe lack of fat tissue, or lipodystrophy. Because these individuals have no body fat in which to store nutrients safely they suffer from Type 2 diabetes, heart problems and a range of other serious health conditions. We work in Dr Justin Rochford’s lab at the Rowett Institute. In work supported by the MRC, this lab has made key discoveries regarding why seipin is important in fat cell development. Although much of our work has focussed on the role of seipin in fat tissue, it is also abundant in the brain. In this collaboration with Prof. Lora Heisler, an international leader in the field of the neurobiology of energy balance, we aim to learn more about the specific functions of seipin in the brain. The work combines the world class expertise of obesity neuroscience and fat cell biology at the Rowett Institute. As well as being important in understanding more about these rare patients who lack seipin, the work will also give us new information about how the brain controls energy balance. This project has the potential to uncover new targets for drugs to treat much more common health disorders associated with obesity.