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Korean researchers uncover a gene responsible for obesity

Korean researchers uncover a gene responsible for obesity

Posted April. 15, 2016 07:20,   

Updated April. 15, 2016 07:25


A team of Korean researchers has discovered a key gene responsible for obesity. The research team led by Professor Han Jeong-hwan at the School of Pharmacy of Sungkyunkwan University, has succeeded in discovering a gene that determines the number of fat cells and published the research results in the journal of Molecular Cell on April 14.

The number of fat cells is determined during childhood and stays constant in adulthood, while the size of the fat cell changes.

The research team found that the gene S6KI (signal transduction molecule) activated after food intake determines the number of fat cells. When the team manipulated the gene in adult mice to reduce signal transduction molecules, the size of the mice became smaller than normal mice and the amount of adipose tissues more than halved. In addition, indicators of metabolic diseases related to obesity, including diabetes and hyperlipidemia, show lower levels.

Stem cells in adipose tissues differentiate into fat cells. The S6K1 is activated in this process, accelerating the fat cell differentiation by reducing the expression‎ of the Wnt gene that inhibits the differentiation.

Professor Han said that the research found the process where obesity is induced at the gene level, adding that it will lay the foundation to prevent or treat obesity by controlling the number of fat cells through gene expression‎.

권예슬동아사이언스기자 yskwon@donga.com