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Contact: Graeme Baldwin
graeme.baldwin@biomedcentral.com
44-020-707-94804
BioMed Central

Obesity genes revealed

A study of 228 women has revealed genetic variants responsible for body shape. Based on work in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, research published today in the open access journal BMC Genetics identifies natural variation in the human LAMA5 gene as a key determinant of weight.

As the prevalence of obesity and related health problems continues to increase worldwide, there is considerable effort being devoted to identify genetic mechanisms that control fat storage. Maria De Luca led a team from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA, who identified candidate genes using different strains of Drosophila.

On the basis of the results of these fly experiments, the research team then tested three common variations in the human LAMA5 gene and discovered two gene variants that were associated with body shape, one in women of European American descent and the other affecting women of American African descent. As De Luca reports, "We found one variant to be associated with weight and lean mass in both ethnic groups. This variant was also associated with height, total fat mass and HDL-cholesterol, but only in European American women. A different variant was associated with triglyceride levels and HDL-cholesterol in African American women."

The use of flies in a study of human obesity may seem strange, but according to De Luca "Insects store fat like mammals do, as lipid droplets accumulated in the fat body, the functional equivalent of both mammalian liver and white adipose tissue". She adds that, "Drosophila share many components of fat biosynthesis, degradation and regulation with humans, including many of those implicated in diabetes and obesity".

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Notes to Editors

1. Genetic variation in a member of the laminin gene family affects variation in body composition in Drosophila and humans.
Maria De Luca, Michelle Moses Chambers, Krista Casazza, Kerry H Lok, Gary R Hunter, Barbara A Gower and Jose R Fernandez
BMC Genetics (in press)

During embargo, article available here: http://www.biomedcentral.com/imedia/8714827361719691_article.pdf?random=220841

After the embargo, article available at journal website: http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcgenet/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. BMC Genetics is an open access journal publishing original peer-reviewed research articles in all aspects of inheritance and variation in individuals and among populations. BMC Genetics (ISSN 1471-2156) is indexed/tracked/covered by PubMed, MEDLINE, BIOSIS, CAS, Scopus, EMBASE, Zoological Record, Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Google Scholar.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.



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