Human obesity, being more than 20 percent over an ideal weight, greatly increases the risk for the development of diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. In the United States, more than one third of adults--50 million people--are obese, reports the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
To locate the mg gene, Dr. Moore and her colleagues used a technique called positional cloning, in which scientists work backwards from examining a specific disease trait and then search for the responsible genetic cause. Their study is the first report of the use of this technique to identify a suppressor gene in a mouse.
A separate study in the same issue of Nature by Gregory S. Barsh, M.D., of Stanford University School of Medicine and colleagues also reports the cloning of the mg gene and that it encodes a large protein that spans the cell membrane. Both the Millennium and the Stanford research teams note the similarity of the mg gene and a human gene called attractin, a recently identified molecule that circulates in the body and is implicated in the interactions of immune system cells.
Dr. Moore's co-authors from Millennium include Deborah L. Nagle, Ph.D., Sonja H.
McGrail, James Vitale, Elizabeth A. Woolf, Barry J. Dussault, Jr., Lisa DiRocco,
Lisa Holmgren, Jill Montagno, Dennis Huszar, Ph.D., Victoria Fairchild-Huntress,
M.S., Pei Ge, and John Keilty. Other co-authors include Peer Bork, Ph.D., of
the European Molecular Biology Laboratories in Heildelberg, Germany and the
Max-Delbruck-Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch; Chris Ebeling, Linda
Baldini, Julie Gilchrist and George A. Carlson, Ph.D., of the McLaughline
Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences in Great Falls, MT; and Paul Burn,
Contact: Marion E. Glick