PPARgamma, the ultimate thrifty gene
The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARgamma) quickly evolved over the last decade from a new orphan receptor to one of the best characterized nuclear receptors. This fast pace in PPARgamma research was triggered by two main discoveries. Firstly, that PPARgamma was shown to have a key role in adipogenesis and be a master controller of the "thrifty gene response" leading to efficient energy storage. Secondly, the discovery that its synthetic ligands, the thiazolidinediones, are promising insulin sensitizing drugs, which are currently being developed for the treatment of Type II (non-insulin-dependent) diabetes mellitus. More recently this nuclear receptor emerged from a role limited to metabolism (diabetes and obesity) to a power player in general transcriptional control of numerous cellular processes, with implications in cell cycle control, carcinogenesis, inflammation, atherosclerosis and immunomodulation. This widened role of PPARgamma will certainly initiate a new flurry of research, which will not only refine our current often partial knowledge of PPARgamma but more importantly also establish that this receptor has a definite role as a primary link adapting cellular, tissue and whole body homeostasis to energy stores.