Unravelling the interaction between zinc a2 glycoprotein, zinc and b adrenergic receptor – a potential new pathway for fat metabolism.


The National Obesity Forum predicts that half of all adults will be obese by 2050. Zinc a2 glycoprotein (ZAG) is an adipokine that breaks down human fat cells (lipolysis). The biochemical mechanism underlying this effect is unknown. This project will use novel computational and biophysical methods based on peptides and lipids to identify the molecular mechanism of ZAG-induced lipolysis to answer a major and long standing research question. The student will benefit from unique cross-disciplinary training opportunities at the forefront of ZAG research. Potentially, cost-saving solutions to the NHS in combatting the effects of obesity will be uncovered.

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Kumar AA, Hati D, Thaker TM, Miah L, Cunningham P, Domene C, Bui TT, Drake AF, McDermott L.C. Strong and weak zinc binding sites in human zinc-α2-glycoprotein, FEBS Lett, 587 (24), 3949-3954, 2013.


McDermott, L. Jadoon, A. Cunningham, P., ZAG and a potential role in systemic lipid homeostasis: examining the evidence from in vitro human studies and patients with chronic illness, Clin Lipidol, 7 (4), 409 – 417, 2012.


McDermott, L.C., Freel, J.A., West, A.P., Bjorkman, P.J., and Kennedy, M.W. Zn-Alpha2-glycoprotein, an MHC Class I-Related Glycoprotein Regulator of Adipose Tissues: Modification or Abrogation of Ligand Binding by Site-Directed Mutagenesis. Biochem, 45 (7), 2035-2041, 2006.


Delker, S.L., West, A.P., McDermott, L., Kennedy, M.W., Bjorkman, P.J., Crystallographic studies of ligand binding by Zn-alpha2-glycoprotein. J Struct Biol, 148 (2), 205-213, 2004.


Nan, R., Tetchner, S., Rodriguez, E., Pao, P.-J., Gor, J., Lengyel, I. & Perkins, S. J.. Zinc-induced self-association of complement C3b and factor H: implications for inflammation and age-related macular degeneration. J Biol Chem 288, 19197-19210, 2013.

Biological Areas:

Structural Biology


Molecules, cells and industrial biotechnology