A multidisciplinary team of bioengineers and metabolic researchers led Andreas Stahl, a professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences & Toxicology at UC Berkeley, has figured out a new pathway that triggers brown fat to consume calories and radiate them away as heat. Sanjay Kumar, a faculty scientist in Biological Systems and Engineering (BSE) and assistant professor of bioengineering at UC Berkeley, was a co-author on the study published March 6 in Cell Metabolism. One unexpected finding was that muscle-like myosin is responsible for causing brown fat cells to stiffen in response to signals from the brain; it is this increased tension that triggers a biochemical pathway that ends with these cells burning calories for heat. “This study offers a remarkable example of how mechanical and other physical forces can influence physiology and disease in powerful, unexpected ways,” Kumar said. Understanding how brown fat is activated could unlock new ways to combat obesity. Read more from UC Berkeley News.