Genetic Link to Obesity Is Found

Susan Farley
Published Online: Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Md, experimented with both humans and animals and isolated the BBS4 protein, which has an indirect link to obesity.A genetic mutation in the BBS4 gene causes what is known as Bardet-Biedl syndrome?a syndrome that can cause obesity, learning disabilities, eye and kidney problems, and disruption in the body's cell transport, which can result in cell death. Under normal circumstances, this protein transports molecules that guide the action of the cells' internal transport system, which moves other proteins, cellular packages, and chromosomes. When the BBS4 gene is mutated, or not working properly, cell division stops and the cell dies. The way this particular protein affects obesity will require further study.

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