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Mark Crowder

Department: Pharmacology

Faculty Mentor: Shelia Collins, Ph.D.

Dissertation DescriptionIdentifying differences in the signaling pathways of white and brown adipose tissue

Unlike energy storing white adipose tissue (WAT), the primary function of brown adipose tissue (BAT) is to “burn” or consume energy to help maintain temperature homeostasis. The amount and activity of BAT positively correlates with improved metabolic health (i.e., improved insulin sensitivity, lower percent body fat). We are investigating the unique signaling pathways that differentiate WAT and BAT particularly downstream of beta-adrenergic receptors (b-AR, the primary stimulus of BAT activity). Using phosphoproteomics, we identified non-canonical downstream substrates of b-AR signaling and identified a kinase that is highly expressed in brown fat; in addition, deletion of this kinase in adipocytes enhances BAT activity. My project is to investigate the role of this kinase in b-AR regulated BAT activity and, by extension, how its activity is regulated in this context.