Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

'Slimming gene' discovered that regulates body fat

Date:
November 22, 2009
Source:
University of Bonn
Summary:
Scientists have discovered a previously unknown fruit fly gene that controls the metabolism of fat. Larvae in which this gene is defective lose their entire fat reserves. Mammals carry a group of genes that are structurally very similar. The scientists therefore hope this research could lead to new medicines to fight obesity.

Scientists at the University of Bonn have discovered a previously unknown fruit fly gene that controls the metabolism of fat. Larvae in which this gene is defective lose their entire fat reserves. Therefore the researchers called the gene 'schlank' (German for 'slim'). Mammals carry a group of genes that are structurally very similar to 'schlank'. They possibly take on a similar function in the energy metabolism. The scientists therefore have hopes in new medicines with which obesity could be fought.

If scientists decipher the function of a gene, they are allowed to name it. With the fruit fly Drosophila there is a rather paradox convention. The names always indicate what the fly looks like if the respective gene is defective. That is also the case with the schlank gene. If it is unimpaired the fly larva can build up fat reserves. It becomes fat. 'Larvae with a mutation of schlank, however, remain slim,' Professor Michael Hoch from the University of Bonn explains. 'In extreme cases the defect can even lead to death.'

Together with Dr. Reinhard Bauer and other employees the development biologist has explored what exactly 'schlank' does. According to their research the gene contains the instructions of what is known as ceramide synthase. Ceramides serve as raw materials for the gauzy membranes that enclose all of the cells in the body. Moreover, schlank also has a regulatory function. It promotes lipid synthesis and at the same time inhibits the mobilisation of fat from the fat reserves.

Mouse gene saves fly larvae

There is a chance that this is not only the case in fruit flies. Humans also produce ceramide synthases however not just one as Drosophila does but rather as many as six different ones. For this purpose humans rely on a group of genes so-called Lass genes. Ceramide synthases are extremely important for animals. Mutations in the corresponding genes lead to severe metabolic disorders and to malfunctions of organ systems. That is why our Lass genes look surprisingly similar to the schlank gene of fruit flies.

This resemblance is so striking that Lass genes from mice can partially compensate for the defect schlank gene in mutant flies. 'We introduced a mouse Lass gene in mutant Drosophila larvae,' Michael Hoch says. 'Normally the larvae died immediately after hatching. Thanks to the Lass gene they resumed building up body fat and survived until the next development stage.'

Up to now, the Lass genes of mammals have not been connected with the regulation of the lipid metabolism. 'But due to the strong parallels with schlank we think such a function is very probable,' Professor Hoch presumes. 'If this is the case they would be a promising approach for new medications for obesity.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Bonn. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Bauer et al. schlank, a member of the ceramide synthase family controls growth and body fat in Drosophila. The EMBO Journal, 2009; DOI: 10.1038/emboj.2009.305

Cite This Page:

University of Bonn. "'Slimming gene' discovered that regulates body fat." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091102111843.htm>.
University of Bonn. (2009, November 22). 'Slimming gene' discovered that regulates body fat. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091102111843.htm
University of Bonn. "'Slimming gene' discovered that regulates body fat." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/11/091102111843.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Doctor At Forefront Of Fighting Ebola Outbreak Gets Ebola

Newsy (July 24, 2014) Sheik Umar Khan has treated many of the people infected in the Ebola outbreak, and now he's become one of them. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

Condemned Man's US Execution Takes Nearly Two Hours

AFP (July 24, 2014) America's death penalty debate raged Thursday after it took nearly two hours for Arizona to execute a prisoner who lost a Supreme Court battle challenging the experimental lethal drug cocktail. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile: iPhone Android Web
          Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins