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Scientists identify gene that is consistently altered in obese individuals
Date:3/21/2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. Food and environment can chemically alter your gene function and scientists have identified a gene that is consistently altered in obesity.

The gene LY86 was among a group of 100 genes identified as likely contributors to obesity through genome-wide association studies comparing the DNA of thousands of obese and lean individuals, said Dr. Shaoyong Su, genetic epidemiologist at the Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University.

Su looked at progressively larger groups of obese versus lean individuals and found LY86 consistently and highly chemically altered, or methylated, in the obese individuals. "The association is solid; the methylation of this gene is important in obesity," Su said.

It's known that obesity is highly inheritable; that if parents are obese, children are at higher risk. However environment, including high-fat foods and chemical exposure, can put you at risk as well, said Su. Methylation is one way the body adjusts to its environment.

He received the 2013 Scott Grundy Fellowship Award for Excellence in Metabolism Research for his studies and is presenting the work this week during the Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism Scientific Session of the American Heart Association in New Orleans.

Previously LY86 had been known as an inflammation gene and Su's studies show, in fact, it may be contributing to more than just obesity. He found high methylation of LY86 also was associated with increased inflammation a risk factor for a variety of maladies such as heart disease and cancer as well as insulin resistance, a cause of diabetes. This association also held up among a group of about 703 subjects that, like the general public, included obese, lean and average-weight individuals.

Now he wants to go back to the animal model to see whether methylation changes gene expression up or down in fat mice as well as fat, pregnant mice and thei
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Contact: Toni Baker
tbaker@gru.edu
706-721-4421
Medical College of Georgia at Georgia Regents University
Source:Eurekalert  

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