Being a diabetic sucks. It just does. And as a result of my condition, I watch the current news that portends cures with great interest. Of course, I hope that they come before I go impotent, blind and my limbs are cut off one-by-one (common results of diabetes).
A team of researchers, led by King's College London and the University of Oxford, have found that a gene linked to type 2 diabetes and cholesterol levels is in fact a 'master regulator' gene, which controls the behaviour of other genes found within fat in the body. (LINK HERE)
As fat plays a key role in susceptibility to metabolic diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes, this study highlights the regulatory gene as a possible target for future treatments to fight these diseases.
The researchers examined over 20,000 genes in subcutaneous fat biopsies from 800 UK female twin volunteers. They found an association between the KLF14 gene and the expression levels of multiple distant genes found in fat tissue, which means it acts as a master switch to control these genes. This was then confirmed in a further independent sample of 600 subcutaneous fat biopsies from Icelandic subjects.
These other genes found to be controlled by KLF14 are in fact linked to a range of metabolic traits, including body-mass index (obesity), cholesterol, insulin and glucose levels, highlighting the interconnectedness of metabolic traits.
The KLF14 gene is special in that its activity is inherited from the mother. Each person inherits a set of all genes from both parents. But in this case, the copy of KLF14 from the father is switched off, meaning that the copy from the mother is the active gene -- a process called imprinting. Moreover, the ability of KLF14 to control other genes was entirely dependent on the copy of KLF14 inherited from the mother -- the copy inherited from the father had no effect.