Many genes have been linked with obesity but how they contribute to disease is unclear. A study in Nature reveals how having one such gene could be making you fat.
Common human variants of the FTO gene predispose to obesity and having the 'fat' version can pile on as much as 3 kg. Mice without Fto do not become obese - in fact they do not grow properly after birth and have less fat tissue overall, find Ulrich Rüther and colleagues. The team show that it's because they expend more energy - even though they move less and eat lots.
The finding represents the first time researchers have been able to directly link Fto and the control of energy expenditure to explain how the gene contributes to obesity development. Further research is needed to clarify the role of FTO in human energy expenditure, but the findings offer a step towards new therapeutic targets for obesity.
Ulrich Rüther (University of Düsseldorf, Germany)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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