Friday, August 29, 2008
Researchers at San Diego's Salk Institute say they've found a genetic switch in the brain of mice that regulates both body weight and fertility. Scientists believe it may operate in the same way for humans. KPBS Reporter Kenny Goldberg has more.
Scientists know that body weight and fertility are related. They also know the hormone leptin triggers both the feeding and reproductive centers in the brain.
Salk biologist Marc Montminy says his research has revealed a gene that plays a pivotal role in the process.
Marc Montminy: The connection, the switch that regulated both of these important functions was not known. So this study sort of highlights a new player in this important area.
The gene is called TORC1. Montminy says TORC1 responds to signals from leptin, and then activates other genes that affect appetite and reproduction.
Montminy says he hopes to explore whether mutations in the gene predispose humans to obesity.
Kenny Goldberg, KPBS News.