Another Obesity-Associated Gene

Researchers find a new gene connected to obesity in a surprising part of the genome.

Rina Shaikh-Lesko
Mar 13, 2014

NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE, BILL BRANSON For years, scientists have suspected that the FTO gene was somehow linked to obesity. Now, researchers led by Marcelo Nobrega of the University of Chicago have shown that the obesity-associated portions of FTO are linked to a distant gene called IRX3, according to a study published yesterday (March 12) in Nature. The researchers found that portions of the FTO gene were involved in switching on a promoter of IRX3, which encodes a transcription factor and is highly conserved in mice, zebrafish, and humans.

In 2007, researchers found that variants of the FTO gene were linked to obesity, but despite intense scrutiny, no direct link was found. “Now, we offer an explanation for that. They were looking at the wrong gene,” Nobrega told the Agence France-Press.

The research team found that in brain tissue samples from people with an obesity-linked mutation in...