Research ArticleCELL BIOLOGY

ASC-1, PAT2, and P2RX5 are cell surface markers for white, beige, and brown adipocytes

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Science Translational Medicine  30 Jul 2014:
Vol. 6, Issue 247, pp. 247ra103
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3008490

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Fat Cells Gain New Identities

There’s “good fat” and there’s “bad fat.” Good fat is considered to be brown adipose tissue (BAT), which burns calories. Bad fat can be white adipose tissue (WAT), which stores lipids as energy and, in excess, contributes to obesity. When brown fat cells, or adipocytes, develop within white fat, they are called “beige.” Sorting out these different adipocyte subtypes within the human body has been challenging but will be important in uncovering the underlying mechanisms for obesity and its comorbidities, such as type 2 diabetes. To this end, Ussar and colleagues have now identified three new surface markers of white, beige, and brown fat cells. These markers—ASC-1, PAT2, and P2RX5—were first selected in silico, then confirmed in mouse WAT and BAT, and lastly verified in human adipose tissue biopsies. ASC-1, PAT2, and P2RX5 are located in the plasma membrane of adipocytes, thus making them prime targets for imaging fat locations within the body and for directing therapeutics toward particular fat depots.