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Major obesity gene is 'lost in the shuffle'

ed up and recombined with each other, erasing approximately 100 kilobases of DNA that spanned the ASIP gene."

Ranging in size from 15 to 22 pounds, gibbons possess lithe, slender bodies that enable them to swing agilely across branches and vines in the jungles. Ishida and Nakayama speculate that the loss of the ASIP gene in gibbons may have played a role in the evolution of the gibbons' uniquely slender body shape and size, although there is no biochemical or physiological evidence to suggest this.

"In essence, we are observing the result of an ancient gene 'knockout' experiment," Ishida explains. "The deletion ?or 'knockout' ?of the ASIP gene may have helped gibbons adapt to arboreal niches. We know that the ASIP protein regulates lipid metabolism in humans, so there is certainly reason to presume that this deletion contributed to the gibbons' remarkably small body mass, enabling them to thrive in the jungle canopy."

Ishida points out that future studies of gibbons and other primates will enable scientists to examine the physiological effects of the ASIP deletion. "This will allow us to identify the specific metabolic roles of ASIP in vivo by comparing a species that has the gene versus a species that lacks the gene," he says.


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Source:Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory


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