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 September 17, 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 September 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

President To Send 3,000 Military Personnel To Fight Ebola

Newsy (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is expected to send 3,000 troops to West Africa as part of the effort to contain Ebola's spread. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

Obama Orders Military Response to Ebola

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Calling the Ebola outbreak in West Africa a potential threat to global security, President Barack Obama is ordering 3,000 U.S. military personnel to the stricken region amid worries that the outbreak is spiraling out of control. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

UN: 20,000 Could Be Infected With Ebola by Year End

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Nearly $1.0 billion dollars is needed to fight the Ebola outbreak raging in west Africa, the United Nations say, warning that 20,000 could be infected by year end. Duration: 00:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

Obama: Ebola Outbreak Threat to Global Security

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) President Obama is ordering U.S. military personnel to West Africa to deal with the Ebola outbreak, which is he calls a potential threat to global security. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
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