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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » There is no gene for the human spirit...

   
Author Topic: There is no gene for the human spirit...
rollainm
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...but apparently there's one that can make us all skinny.

quote:
The gene, called adipose, was discovered in fat fruit flies more than 50 years ago by a graduate student at Yale University, but few people knew about it. Its mechanism was unknown, and whether it's important in other genes was a mystery.

In the current study, the UT Southwestern researchers examined how adipose works by analyzing fruit flies, tiny worms called C. elegans, cultured cells, and genetically engineered mice, as well as by exploiting sophisticated molecular techniques. Using several methods, they manipulated adipose in the various animals, turning the gene on and off at different stages in the animals' lives and in various parts of their bodies.

It was discovered that the gene, which is also present in humans, is likely to be a high-level master switch that tells the body whether to accumulate or burn fat.

In the mice, the researchers found that increasing adipose activity improved the animals' health in many ways. Mice with experimentally increased adipose activity ate as much or more than normal mice; however, they were leaner, had diabetes-resistant fat cells, and were better able to control insulin and blood-sugar metabolism.

In contrast, animals with reduced adipose activity were fatter, less healthy and had diabetes.


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Bob the Lawyer
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Is adipose the next PTP1B?
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Lyrhawn
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How did they turn it on at different stages of their life? Usually in science fiction they use some sort of retrovirus to recode your DNA or something, but I thought that was still science fiction.
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Bob the Lawyer
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In Joe Average Mouse? Usually very, very hard. In Joe Specifically Designed Transgenic Mouse? It's as easy as you designed it to be.

Basically (gross simplification) you design a mutated copy of the gene, in this case one that requires a specific chemical in order to work or one that will shut down when a specific chemical is present. Take that gene and inject it into fertilized mouse eggs and inject those into a surrogate mother mouse and the progeny carry your genes of interest. Introduce the specific chemical a) Turn on the gene or b) turn off the gene to study at your leisure.

It's been all the rage for a few decades now.

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Lyrhawn
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Wow, didn't know that. Thanks for the explanation.
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