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Researchers uncover 'obesity gene' involved in weight gain response to high-fat diet
Date:2/24/2009

o had about 500 percent more of the gene in their fat cells than did normal mice. Mehta and colleagues have assembled a team that includes an endocrinologist, bariatric surgeon and molecular biologist to examine human fat tissue from obese and lean patients to see if levels of PKC beta are elevated in obese humans, as well.

"It is very likely that this gene may be involved in a predisposition to obesity," he said.

Knowing the gene is responsive in the fat cells is important to figuring out how to suppress its action. Future research will involve deleting the gene from fat cells in mice to see if these new mice have the same lean body type as mice that are completely deficient of PKC beta throughout their entire genome.

"We are generating more mouse models to vary expression of this gene and study the consequences of that on obesity and related disorders," Mehta said.

So far, mouse models lacking the protein have not shown any damaging side effects related to the suppression of the gene, Mehta said. He speculates that PKC beta could be a so-called "thrifty" gene left over from humans' days as hunter-gatherers, when the body needed to retain fat for survival.


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Contact: Kamal Mehta
Mehta.80@osu.edu
614-688-8451
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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