UK Scientists Uncover Obesity ‘Master Switch’ Gene
A team of UK scientists have found a gene they are calling the ‘master regulator’ in relation to obesity, cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes.
The research team at King’s College London and Oxford University discovered that a particular gene controls the behaviour of other genes found within fat tissues in the body. The research team published their findings in the Nature Genetics Journal and is part of a larger collaborative effort known as the MuTHER study.
Contributing to the research along with Kings College London and Oxford University have been the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the University of Geneva as well as DeCODE Genetics.
Researchers already knew that the KLF14 gene was linked to cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes but until now they weren’t exactly sure how or why. The research team analysed over 20,000 genes found in subcutaneous fat biopsies from 800 female twin volunteers from the UK. The team discovered that there was an association between the KLF4 gene and the expression levels of multiple distant genes found in fat tissue, suggesting that it behaves as a master switch to control these genes.
The findings were then independently verified by a sample of 600 subcutaneous fat biopsies from Icelandic volunteers. The genes that were found to be controlled by KLF14 are linked to numerous metabolic traits which include obesity, glucose, cholesterol and insulin levels.