Cholesterol and diabetes linked to gene

A master regulator gene has been identified that is linked to cholesterol and diabetes, causes obesity and controls the behaviour inside of fat cells of distant genes wrote researchers from the University of Oxford and King’s College London in Nature Genetics. This discovery the authors say may help in the development of treatments being more effective for illnesses related to obesity like heart disease and diabetes.

This was part of a collaboration that was multinational with the Wellcome Trust financing the MuTHER study and scientists from University of Oxford, Wellcome Trust, the University of Geneva and King’s College London collaborating with help from DeCode Genetics as well.

The role that KLF14 played up until now has been unknown, even though researchers knew previously that the gene was linked to diabetes type 2 and cholesterol levels. Subcutaneous fat (fat samples taken from below the skin) biopsies were taken by the team of 776 twins (female) in Great Britain and then over 20,000 genes were analyzed in the fat cells.

Their findings were that KLF14 acts as a controller and influences the behaviour, in the fat tissue, of distant cells. Another 600 fat samples were taken from a group in Iceland and confirmed their original findings. Fat is a key factor in our susceptibility to metabolic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

The mother passes along the KLF14 gene and as is always the case we receive genes from both parents, but the KLF14 gene received from the father is turned off making the mother’s the active gene with this being known as imprinting. If there were medications to directly target the KLF14, the treatment of many metabolic diseases could become much more effective.