Researchers have identified 5 new genes involved in creating abdominal fat, which can be a precursor to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer. The research was published in the journal of Molecular Genetics and analyzed 57,000 people of European descent, and searched for genes that increase risk of high waist-to-hip ratio,(WHR), independent of overall obesity.
Their findings have identified three new genes associated with increased WHR in both men and women, and discovered two new genes that appear to affect WHR in women only.
One specific gene termed SHC1, seems to interact with 17 other proteins known to have involvement in obesity, and is highly expressed in fat tissue. In addition, the genetic variant the team discovered in SHC1 is linked to another variant that causes an amino acid change in the protein, possibly changing the function or expression of the protein. Prior research has correlated lean mice to the lacking presence of the SHC1 gene.
“This is the first time SHC1 has been associated with abdominal fat,” Taylor said. “We believe this discovery holds great opportunity for medicinal chemistry and eventually, personalized medicine. If scientists can find a way to fine-tune the expression of this gene, we could potentially reduce the risk of excessive fat in the mid-section and its consequences, such as cardiovascular disease.”
The research also pointed to the fact that SHC1 activates the insulin receptor, triggering multiple signaling events that affect fat cell growth.
S. Yoneyama, Y. Guo, M. B. Lanktree, M. R. Barnes, C. C. Elbers, K. J. Karczewski, S. Padmanabhan, F. Bauer, J. Baumert, A. Beitelshees, G. S. Berenson, J. M. A. Boer, G. Burke, B. Cade, W. Chen, R. M. Cooper-DeHoff, T. R. Gaunt, C. Gieger, Y. Gong, M. Gorski, N. Heard-Costa, T. Johnson, M. J. Lamonte, C. McDonough, K. L. Monda, N. C. Onland-Moret, C. P. Nelson, J. R. O’Connell, J. Ordovas, I. Peter, A. Peters, J. Shaffer, H. Shen, E. Smith, L. Speilotes, F. Thomas, B. Thorand, W. M. M. Verschuren, S. S. Anand, A. Dominiczak, K. W. Davidson, R. A. Hegele, I. Heid, M. H. Hofker, G. S. Huggins, T. Illig, J. A. Johnson, S. Kirkland, W. Konig, T. Y. Langaee, J. McCaffery, O. Melander, B. D. Mitchell, P. Munroe, S. S. Murray, G. Papanicolaou, S. Redline, M. Reilly, N. J. Samani, N. J. Schork, Y. T. van der Schouw, D. Shimbo, A. R. Shuldiner, M. D. Tobin, C. Wijmenga, S. Yusuf, H. Hakonarson, L. A. Lange, E. W. Demerath, C. S. Fox, K. E. North, A. P. Reiner, B. Keating, K. C. Taylor. Gene-centric meta-analyses for central adiposity traits in up to 57,412 individuals of European descent confirm known loci and reveal several novel associations. Human Molecular Genetics, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/hmg/ddt626