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Scientists Delete Obesity Gene In Mice

Scientists Delete Obesity Gene In Mice

When scientist turn off the IKKE ‘obesity gene’ in mice, the rodents stayed slender even on high fat diets…

Researchers have discovered a gene in mice that, when switched off, enables them to stay slim, even those who eat fatty diets.

Scientists found that when the IKKE gene was deleted, the rodents no longer gained weight, even when fed a lard-like substance as opposed to their normal food.

Senior study author Alan Saltiel, the Mary Sue Coleman Director of the University of Michigan Life Sciences Institute, said:

“We’ve studied other genes associated with obesity — we call them ‘obesogenes’ — but this is the first one we’ve found that, when deleted, stops the animal from gaining weight,”

In the study, some mice ate diets with 45 percent of calories from fat, while others ate diets with 4.5 percent of calories from fat, for a duration of 14 to 16 weeks.


The mice with the deleted IKKE gene that were on the high-fat diet stayed slender.

The researchers believe that deleting the IKKE gene speeds the metabolism of mice, enabling them to burn more calories instead of storing them as fat.

The IKKE gene produces a protein kinase, an enzyme that activates other proteins, also named IKKE. Researchers believe that the IKKE protein kinase targets the other proteins responsible for regulating metabolism.

When normal mice are fed a high-fat diet, IKKE protein-kinase levels rise, slowing the metabolic rate and causing weight gain. However that didn’t happen in the mice with the deleted IKKE gene.

“The knockout mice are not exercising any more than the control mice used in the study. They’re just burning more energy…

“And in the process, they’re generating a little heat, as well — their body temperature actually increases a bit.”

Obesity is associated with chronic, low-grade inflammation that can lead to insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes. Not only did the mice with the deleted IKKE gene avoid weight gain, they showed no signs of chronic inflammation, fatty liver or insulin resistance either, according to the study.

The study authors say that more follow-up research is needed to determine if IKKE plays a role in weight gain in humans. But if it does, there is good chance that anti-obesity drugs would soon follow.

“The fact that you can disrupt all the effects of a high-fat diet by deleting this one gene in mice is pretty interesting and surprising,” Saltiel said.

The study was published in the Sept. 4 issue of the journal Cell.


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