Deleting a Single Gene Reduces Fat Mass and Extends Lifespan of Mice by 20%

March 26, 2014

Health

Deleting a Single Gene Reduces Fat Mass and Extends Lifespan of Mice by 20 Percent

Researchers discover that mice without the FAT10 gene have an elevated metabolic rate, burn fat as fuel, exhibit reduced glucose and insulin levels, and age more slowly than normal mice.

By deleting a single gene, researchers at Yale University were able to dramatically reduce fat mass in mice while expanding their lifespan by 20%. The findings also suggest that the damaging inflammation associated with obesity may not be just a byproduct of the condition, but itself may lead to age-related weight gain and decrease longevity.

“It appears that if you reduce inflammation, this may reduce the growth of fat tissues and therefore have a positive impact on longevity,” said Allon Caanan, associate researcher in genetics at Yale and co-lead author of the study.

The research was headed by scientists at Yale and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University Tufts University, and is published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Canaan, working in the lab of Yale’s Sherman Weissman, was interested in using mice without the FAT10 gene to study its role in sepsis, a devastating and sometimes fatal inflammatory response to infection. FAT10 belongs to a family of genes that act as recyclers of cellular proteins and was found to be induced by inflammation. Since older mice and humans are more susceptible to sepsis, Canaan left some mice to age. To his surprise, mice lacking the FAT10 gene aged more slowly than normal mice and were 50% leaner.

Yale and Tufts researchers found that mice lacking FAT10 had an elevated metabolic rate, burned fat as fuel, and exhibited reduced glucose and insulin levels.

“The DNA and protein sequences of the FAT10 gene are highly conserved between man and mouse. If it serves the same functions in humans, then this could be a potential target for new therapies,” Canaan said.

The immune system response that produces inflammation is crucial in warding off infections. “Thus it has short-term beneficial effects on survival but for the long term we may pay a price in a sort of evolutionary tradeoff,” Canaan said.

Canaan’s research was funded by the William Prusoff Foundation, and the Tufts group was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Yale’s Weissman is senior author of the paper, and Canaan is the corresponding author for this publication and a co-lead author with Jason DeFuria of Tufts. Researchers at Stanford and in Israel also contributed to the research.

Publication: Allon Canaan, et al., “Extended lifespan and reduced adiposity in mice lacking the FAT10 gene,” PNAS, 2014; doi: 10.1073/pnas.1323426111

Source: Bill Hathaway, Yale University

Image: Genetic Engineering and DNA Manipulation from Shutterstock

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One Response to “Deleting a Single Gene Reduces Fat Mass and Extends Lifespan of Mice by 20%”

  1. Conrad Winkelman Says:

    The genes are distritbuted all over an organism. How is a single gene type removed from a mouse?

    Perhaps what is meant that from an egg of a mouse this gene van be removed? The same gene type should then also be removed form the fertilizing sperm. it id had that gene. Is that gene romoval possible or is the gene in question deactivated in some selective process after a mouse is born?

    Reply

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