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UCLA/VA researchers discover fat gene

UCLA/VA scientists have identified a new gene that controls how the body produces and uses fat. Called lipin, the gene may provide a new target for therapies to control obesity, diabetes and other weight-related disorders. The first issue of the new journal Cell Metabolism publishes the findings in its January 2005 edition.

"Lipin regulates how the body stores and burns fat. Our findings suggest that differences in lipin levels may play a role in why some people are more prone to weight gain than others who consume the same calories," said principal investigator Karen Reue, Ph.D., a professor of medicine and human genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and a researcher at the Veterans Affairs Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System.

In 2001, Reue's laboratory was the first to isolate the lipin gene and link it to lipodystrophy, a wasting disorder in which the body is unable to produce fat. She also found that too little lipin prevented both genetic and diet-related obesity.

For this study, Reue and coauthor Jack Phan, Ph.D., tested whether too much lipin would produce the opposite effect. Her team developed animal models using two sets of specially bred mice. Each group had a genetic mutation that boosted the level of lipin one group in their fat tissue and the other group in their muscles.

When fed a high-fat diet for six weeks, the mice with elevated lipin in their fat or muscles showed accelerated weight gain double the amount of weight gained by the normal mice.

"The mice with too much lipin in their fat tissue or muscles quickly grew obese gaining more than twice the weight gained by the normal mice on the same diet," said Reue.

Although both sets of mice gained excessive weight, the researchers were surprised to see that the lipin affected fat tissue and muscles differently.

Lipin functions in diverse ways to affect body weight. While lipin in fat tissue influences the capa
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Contact: Elaine Schmidt
eschmidt@mednet.ucla.edu
310-794-2272
University of California - Los Angeles
18-Jan-2005


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