Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Overactive FTO gene does cause overeating and obesity

Date:
December 6, 2010
Source:
University of Oxford
Summary:
Scientists have gained strong confirmation of the direct connection between the FTO gene and obesity, obtaining the first direct evidence that overactivity of the gene leads to overeating and obesity in mice.

Scientists have gained strong confirmation of the direct connection between the FTO gene and obesity, obtaining the first direct evidence that overactivity of the gene leads to overeating and obesity.
Credit: iStockphoto

Scientists have gained strong confirmation of the direct connection between the FTO gene and obesity, obtaining the first direct evidence that overactivity of the gene leads to overeating and obesity in mice.

The research team from the University of Oxford and Medical Research Council (MRC), with funding from the Wellcome Trust and MRC, have published their results in the journal Nature Genetics.

The team's findings suggest that the gene could be a promising target for developing anti-obesity drugs that act by turning down the gene's activity.

'This work makes us confident that FTO is an important gene that contributes to obesity,' says Professor Frances Ashcroft of Oxford University's Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics, and one of the leaders of the research. 'Too much activity of this gene can lead to putting on weight by overeating.

'We can now think about developing drugs that turn down the activity of the FTO gene as potential anti-obesity pills. That's a long way off and there's no certainty of success, but it's an enticing prospect,' she adds.

In 2007, an international team of researchers, including Oxford scientists, announced that they had identified the first genetic variant that could be linked to increased likelihood of obesity in a large genome-wide study.

The single change in DNA sequence lay within the FTO gene. People with two copies of this genetic variant (around 16% of people of European descent have two copies) were 3 kg heavier on average than those without.

While this was an important result, genome-wide association studies are often first steps that then enable detailed research to pin down the mechanisms behind the observed connection, in this case to obesity.

In particular, genome-wide studies cannot be certain that the genetic variation identified directly increases obesity risk. The DNA change could be a flag or marker that the important gene lies nearby, or the DNA change could lie within a control element that regulates a different gene some distance away.

The researchers in the current study, led by Professor Roger Cox at MRC Harwell and Professor Frances Ashcroft at Oxford University, set out determine whether it was differences in the activity of the FTO gene itself that was directly causing the increase in body weight.

The scientists bred mice with extra copies of the FTO gene. These mice were healthy, but ate more and became fatter than normal mice.

Female mice with two extra copies of the FTO gene, when fed a standard diet, became 22% heavier that normal female mice after 20 weeks. The difference in weight for male mice was 10%. The researchers also showed that the difference came because mice with FTO overactivity consumed more food. (There is no suggestion that weight differences in humans with FTO variants are, or would be, nearly as large, or would necessarily affect the sexes in a similar proportion.)

Chris Church, a PhD student from MRC Harwell and first author on the study, said: 'For the first time we have provided convincing proof that the FTO gene causes obesity. The next step is to understand how it does this, for instance whether it increases appetite by influencing our brain or alters messages from our fat stores and other tissues. Once we know how FTO causes obesity we have the potential to look at developing drugs to treat it.

'Genome-wide association studies have done a fantastic job narrowing down the areas in the genome responsible for obesity. They've provided signposts of where to look, but these areas still need pinning down to a precise gene, as we have done here for the first time with FTO. The mouse model has enabled us to achieve this in just a few years, and we hope the same process will now be applied to the other gene areas implicated in obesity, enabling scientists to confirm precisely which other genes can predispose us to become overweight.'

Almost 1 in 3 people in the UK are overweight or obese. Obesity predisposes people to numerous diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. The estimated cost of obesity to the NHS is approximately £1 billion a year, with an additional £2.3 to £2.6 billion per year to the economy as a whole.

'This gene is novel to obesity research and it is going to be exciting to find out how it works,' says Professor Roger Cox of the Medical Research Council's Mammalian Genetics Unit at Harwell, and one of the leaders of the research. 'We have the mouse models now to address these questions.'


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Chris Church, Lee Moir, Fiona McMurray, Christophe Girard, Gareth T Banks, Lydia Teboul, Sara Wells, Jens C Brόning, Patrick M Nolan, Frances M Ashcroft, Roger D Cox. Overexpression of Fto leads to increased food intake and results in obesity. Nature Genetics, 2010; DOI: 10.1038/ng.713

Cite This Page:

University of Oxford. "Overactive FTO gene does cause overeating and obesity." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 December 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116220332.htm>.
University of Oxford. (2010, December 6). Overactive FTO gene does cause overeating and obesity. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116220332.htm
University of Oxford. "Overactive FTO gene does cause overeating and obesity." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101116220332.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

Gilead's $1000-a-Pill Drug Could Cure Hep C in HIV-Positive People

TheStreet (July 21, 2014) — New research shows Gilead Science's drug Sovaldi helps in curing hepatitis C in those who suffer from HIV. In a medical study, the combination of Gilead's Hep C drug with anti-viral drug Ribavirin cured 76% of HIV-positive patients suffering from the most common hepatitis C strain. Hepatitis C and related complications have been a top cause of death in HIV-positive patients. Typical medication used to treat the disease, including interferon proteins, tended to react badly with HIV drugs. However, Sovaldi's %1,000-a-pill price tag could limit the number of patients able to access the treatment. TheStreet's Keris Lahiff reports from New York. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com
$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

$23.6 Billion Awarded To Widow In Smoking Lawsuit

Newsy (July 20, 2014) — Cynthia Robinson claims R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company hid the health and addiction risks of its products, leading to the death of her husband in 1996. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Tooth Plaque Provides Insight Into Diets Of Ancient People

Newsy (July 19, 2014) — Research on plaque from ancient teeth shows that our prehistoric ancestor's had a detailed understanding of plants long before developing agriculture. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

Contaminated Water Kills 3 Babies in South African Town

AFP (July 18, 2014) — Contaminated water in South Africa's northwestern town of Bloemhof kills three babies and hospitalises over 500 people. The incident highlights growing fears over water safety in South Africa. Duration: 02:22 Video provided by AFP
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