Research highlight

A natural ligand for PPAR-gamma

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology

July 7, 2008

How PPAR-gamma - a fatty acid receptor that plays a central role in energy metabolism ? is activated by a natural ligand is revealed in a study online this week in Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. The findings could be useful in the design of better drugs to treat type 2 diabetes.

Dysfunctions in PPAR-gamma are linked to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity, so the receptor is an important target for type 2 diabetes drugs. Previous work had shown that synthetic binding molecules, or ligands, activate PPAR-gamma by making contacts with one specific part of the protein.

Yong Li, Eric Xu and colleagues now show that nitrated linoleic acid, a potent natural ligand, makes contacts with this same region but also with a second one, explaining how it is recognized by PPAR-gamma and why it has such high activity.

doi: 10.1038/nsmb.1447

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