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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Animal models of obesity: genetic aspects.

Among the candidate genes that have been reviewed herein, adipsin, calcitonin, cholecystokin, Gi alpha and Gs subunits of G proteins, insulin I and II, and lipoprotein lipase have all been mapped to specific chromosomes in mouse or rat or both. In none of these cases is the chromosomal location syntenic with murine obesity genes db (on chromosome 4), or ob (on chromosome 6). Thus, all of these genes that code for metabolic modulators that are altered in obese animals but not in lean animals can be ruled out as possible loci of the primary genetic defect, at least for the murine models of obesity. In the case of neuropeptide Y, growth hormone, glucose transporter GLUT-4, the insulin receptor, and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase, chromosomal mapping has not yet been reported. However, in each of these cases, the evidence available strongly argues against any one of these physiologic modulators as the likely site of the primary defect for any one of the obesity mutations. Rather, in all of these cases, regardless of whether or not the gene has been mapped, the evidence suggests that posttranscriptional and/or post-translational processes are involved in bringing about the specific alterations in level or activity of the protein product that is seen in the obese animal. Often hormonal regulation is invoked as a possible explanation for the changes observed in gene expression. The hormones most commonly identified as having a mediating effect on the particular metabolic pathways involved are insulin and/or the adrenal glucocorticoids. Since in each of the obese mutants, circulating amounts of these hormones are elevated, severely so in the case of insulin, it would not be surprising to find that they influence the levels and activities of many protein products involved in a variety of central nervous system and peripheral metabolic pathways. Glucocorticoids are known to exert direct effects on gene expression; however, with respect to adipsin gene expression, a direct effect has not been found. Furthermore, insulin itself has been considered as a candidate for the genetic lesion in these animals and has been ruled out by chromosomal localization. Thus, while it may certainly prove to be the case that both insulin and glucocorticoids affect these systems in some way, their effects appear to be indirect. The work by Platt and colleagues in transgenic mice provides the first evidence of signal transduction between an obese mutant allele and the promoter sequence for a gene that shows significantly altered expression in the obese animal.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)[1]


  1. Animal models of obesity: genetic aspects. Johnson, P.R., Greenwood, M.R., Horwitz, B.A., Stern, J.S. Annu. Rev. Nutr. (1991) [Pubmed]
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