Graduate student Alessandra Norris and Daniel Kopinke, the PI, discovered that pre-adipocytes possess a primary cilium, which acts as a cellular antenna to sense and interpret environmental cues. Genetically removing cilia from preadipocytes prevented their differentiation into mature fat cells. As a consequence, white adipose tissue expansion was dramatically repressed. This finding points to cilia as a gatekeeper of healthy fat and, hopefully, will lead to novel therapies for obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
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