from the University
of Oxford and King's College London have made a
crucial discovery that could lead to the development of better treatments and
maybe even a cure for type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Tim Spector, study leader from the Department of Twin Research at King's
College London, and Professor Mark McCarthy, co-author of the University of
Oxford, have determined how a previously discovered gene that is linked to type 2 diabetes and cholesterol acts as a
regulator for the gene's that reside within the body's fat.
been linked to type 2 diabetes and cholesterol levels in previous studies. But
now, scientists have figured out how this gene acts as a regulator for genes
located in far-away body fat.
seems to act as a master switch controlling processes that connect
changes in the behavior of subcutaneous fat to disturbances in muscle and liver
that contribute to diabetes and other conditions," said McCarthy. "We
are working hard right now to understand these processes and how we can use
this information to improve treatment of these conditions."
inherits a set of genes from both the mother and the father. In this study,
researchers found that the KLF14 gene inherited its activity from the mother
while the father's KLF14 gene remains inactive. The KLF14's ability to control
distant genes in the body's fat is completely dependent on the mother's
discovered that the mother's KLF14 gene controls other genes associated with body-mass index (obesity), insulin,
glucose levels and cholesterol. This means that KLF14 is a "master
switch" that controls and shows the connections between metabolic traits.
made this discovery by recruiting 800 UK female twin participants and studying
over 20,000 genes in subcutaneous fat biopsies. They also looked at genes in
subcutaneous fat biopsies from Icelandic participants. Between the two studies,
researchers discovered the connections between the KLF14 gene and distant genes
associated with metabolic traits.
is the first major study that shows how small changes in one master regulator
gene can cause a cascade of other metabolic effects in other genes," said
Spector. "This has great therapeutic potential particularly as by studying
large detailed populations such as the twins we hope to find more of these
This study was published in Nature
Genetics, and is part of multinational collaboration funded by the
Wellcome Trust called the MuTHER study.