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

r offspring. He believes that a lot of methylation starts in the womb and there are unfortunate real-life circumstances that support that theory.

For example, in the Dutch famine of 1944 near the end of World War II, babies born to starving mothers experienced DNA methylation that made them better able to survive such depravation, but in the more plentiful environment in which they grew up, put them at increased risk for cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes, obesity and other health problems.

He's already moving forward with more human studies as well, looking at a new group of lean and obese individuals, analyzing their DNA expression to see if increased methylation of LY86 means the gene is expressed more or less. Generally, higher methylation is thought to translate to lower gene expression.

He also wants to pin down whether methylation results from things like a high-fat diet, unfortunate genetics or both. These types of details may help explain why some individuals grow obese with a bad diet and little physical activity while others don't, Su said. It also may mean that positive environmental change, such as a better diet or more physical activity, can reverse at least some of the methylation. People may not get thin, for example, but they may reduce their risk for obesity-related disease, Su said.

LY86's clear importance in obesity emerged by first merging the gene list from the genome wide association studies with a genome wide methylation database on a small cohort of seven obese and seven lean individuals. The finding of increased methylation held up in subsequent groups of 46 obese/46 leans, 230 obese/413 leans as well as the general population panel of 703 at the GRU Institute of Public and Preventive Health. The research was supported by the National Institutes of Health.


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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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