Master Gene’s Role in Fat Metabolism

master switch obesity diabetesThere are fascinating findings from a study in the United Kingdom examining how genetic mechanisms control fat metabolism. A study was published in Nature Genetics, and was part of a large multi-national collaboration involving researchers from King’s College London, University of Oxford, The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, and the University of Geneva.

The researchers examined more than 20,000 genes in subcutaneous fat biopsies from 776 female twin volunteers. They found an association between the KLF14 gene and the expression levels of multiple distant genes found in fat tissue, which means it acts as a master switch to control these genes. This was then confirmed in a further independent sample of 600 subcutaneous fat biopsies.

We spoke with Dr. Adam Smith, expert bariatric surgeon practicing at Fort Worth LAP-BAND, and asked him to comment on the study. “This is very exciting research regarding possible genetic mechanisms of obesity and metabolic disease. Scientists from England have studied thousands of fat samples and found that KLF14, a gene already linked to diabetes and cholesterol levels, has far-reaching effects on multiple distant genes found in fat tissue.  The results of this study further our understanding of obesity and its related diseases and can lead to improvements in obesity treatment,” Dr. Smith said.

According to the article, scientists had already known that the KLF14 gene is linked to type 2 diabetes and cholesterol levels, but until now they didn’t know how it did this or how far-reaching its control of other genes was. The other genes found to be controlled by KLF14 are linked to a range of metabolic traits, including body-mass index (BMI), cholesterol, insulin and glucose levels, highlighting the interconnectedness of metabolic traits.

You can read MedPage Today’s coverage of the study here.

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