Research Digest

Lab notes: A transport protein manages the amount of fat circulating in blood

The finding has implications for the understanding and treatment of heart disease.

The very mention of triglycerides or cholesterol makes us think of heart disease. Although these molecules are circulating in our blood all the time, their amount needs to be precisely controlled for us to remain healthy. A group of Indian scientists has figured out mechanism by which liver maintains a balance of triglycerides in blood.

Triglycerides are main components of fat, and molecules called very-low-density lipoproteins, or VLDLs, carry them. Although liver works efficiently to control amounts of triglycerides in blood, the mechanism by which it does so has remained unclear. Scientists at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Mumbai, Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore and Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Pune have deciphered this crucial mechanism.

Researchers have identified the role of a motor protein, Kinesin, in this mechanism. Kinesin acts as a carrier of lipid droplets that contain fat molecules and assists in transport and secretion of triglycerides outside the liver cells. It has been shown that insulin regulates this secretion. Since the amount of insulin varies with food intake, so does the secretion of triglycerides into the blood.

During fasting (when we have not eaten for a long period or when we are sleeping), kinesin detaches from lipid droplets. There is no secretion and thus fat accumulates in liver while the reverse happens during the “fed state”. This maintains the amount of circulating fat in the blood. These studies have been performed on rats and the findings published recently in journal Proceedings of National Academy of Science.

Researchers are further extending this work for more in-depth studies. “We are testing how rare phospholipids control triglyceride secretion across fed/fasted states. We are also developing an invivo model where we can test the effect of disrupting the mechanism of controlled triglyceride secretion,” Dr Roop Mallik of TIFR told India Science Wire.

Apart from its role in regulating the fat secretion, the team has found that Kinesin is important for replication of hepatitis C virus that infects liver. “It is known that lipid droplets are important for HCV to replicate. We found that the Kinesin motor is required for HCV replication. Perhaps targeted interference against kinesin on lipid droplets can be used to block HCV infection. We plan to take this direction of research further”, explained Dr Mallik.

The team included Priyanka Rai, Mukesh Kumar, Pradeep Barak and Roop Mallik from TIFR, Mumbai; Geetika Sharma and Saumitra Das from IISc Bangalore; and Siddhesh S. Kamat from IISER Pune. The work was funded by Department of Atomic Energy, Wellcome Trust–Department of Biotechnology India Alliance and CSIR.

This article was first published by India Science Wire.

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Advice from an ex-robber on how to keep your home safe

Tips on a more hands-on approach of keeping your house secure.

Home, a space that is entirely ours, holds together our entire world. Where our children grow-up, parents grow old and we collect a lifetime of memories, home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. So, what do you do when your home is eyed by miscreants who prowl the neighbourhood night and day, plotting to break in? Here are a few pre-emptive measures you can take to make your home safe from burglars:

1. Get inside the mind of a burglar

Before I break the lock of a home, first I bolt the doors of the neighbouring homes. So that, even if someone hears some noise, they can’t come to help.

— Som Pashar, committed nearly 100 robberies.

Burglars study the neighbourhood to keep a check on the ins and outs of residents and target homes that can be easily accessed. Understanding how the mind of a burglar works might give insights that can be used to ward off such danger. For instance, burglars judge a house by its front doors. A house with a sturdy door, secured by an alarm system or an intimidating lock, doesn’t end up on the burglar’s target list. Upgrade the locks on your doors to the latest technology to leave a strong impression.

Here are the videos of 3 reformed robbers talking about their modus operandi and what discouraged them from robbing a house, to give you some ideas on reinforcing your home.

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2. Survey your house from inside out to scout out weaknesses

Whether it’s a dodgy back door, a misaligned window in your parent’s room or the easily accessible balcony of your kid’s room, identify signs of weakness in your home and fix them. Any sign of neglect can give burglars the idea that the house can be easily robbed because of lax internal security.

3. Think like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

You don’t need to plant intricate booby traps like the ones in the Home Alone movies, but try to stay one step ahead of thieves. Keep your car keys on your bed-stand in the night so that you can activate the car alarm in case of unwanted visitors. When out on a vacation, convince the burglars that the house is not empty by using smart light bulbs that can be remotely controlled and switched on at night. Make sure that your newspapers don’t pile up in front of the main-door (a clear indication that the house is empty).

4. Protect your home from the outside

Collaborate with your neighbours to increase the lighting around your house and on the street – a well-lit neighbourhood makes it difficult for burglars to get-away, deterring them from targeting the area. Make sure that the police verification of your hired help is done and that he/she is trustworthy.

While many of us take home security for granted, it’s important to be proactive to eliminate even the slight chance of a robbery. As the above videos show, robbers come up with ingenious ways to break in to homes. So, take their advice and invest in a good set of locks to protect your doors. Godrej Locks offer a range of innovative locks that are un-pickable and un-duplicable. To secure your house, see here.

The article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Godrej Locks and not by the Scroll editorial team.