Researchers from the MRL have discovered a novel genetic cause of severe obesity which, although relatively rare, demonstrates for the first time that genes can reduce basal metabolic rate – how the body burns calories.
Previously, studies done by David Powell and colleagues at Lexicon Pharmaceuticals in Texas demonstrated that when the gene KSR2 (Kinase Suppressor of Ras 2) was deleted in mice, the animals became severely obese. This led Professor Sadaf Farooqi from the University of Cambridge to wonder if KSR2 mutations might also lead to obesity in humans. In collaboration with Dr Ines Barroso’s team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, the team sequenced the DNA from over 2,000 severely obese patients and identified multiple mutations in the KSR2 gene. The research was published online on the 24th October in the journal Cell.