A new study by the University of British Columbia has determined that a gene which encodes a specific protein called 14-3-3zeta is responsible for addressing obesity.
Scientists used a mouse model to prevent protein expression by silencing the gene. The result was a 50% reduction in a specific type of unhealthy fat, “white fat” which is associated with obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
“People gain fat in two ways — through the multiplication of their fat cells, and through the expansion of individual fat cells,” said Gareth Lim, a postdoctoral fellow in UBC’s Life Sciences Institute. “This protein affects both the number of cells and how big they are, by playing a role in the growth cycle of these cells.”
“Until now, we didn’t know how this gene affected obesity,” Johnson said. “This study shows how fundamental research can address major health problems and open up new avenues for drug discovery.”
Gareth E. Lim, Tobias Albrecht, Micah Piske, Karnjit Sarai, Jason T. C Lee, Hayley S. Ramshaw, Sunita Sinha, Mark A. Guthridge, Amparo Acker-Palmer, Angel F. Lopez, Susanne M. Clee, Corey Nislow, James D. Johnson. 14-3-3ζ coordinates adipogenesis of visceral fat. Nature Communications, 2015; 6: 7671 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8671