Obesity Research and Education Initiative

Targeting a Fat-Accumulation Gene: Nature's News and Views by Charles Brenner

Brenner smDr. Charles Brenner, a founding co-director of the University of Iowa Obesity Research and Education Initiative and member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center (FOEDRC) wrote an article entitled "Targeting a Fat-Accumulation Gene" in the April 10 edition of Nature (PDF), one of the world's most prestigious scientific publications. Brenner, an expert in NAD metabolism, was asked to summarize and provide insights into new work in which gene-targeting allowed a mouse to resist weight gain on a high fat diet. In this work, Dr. Barbara Kahn and co-workers at Harvard Medical School and elsewhere demonstrated that the NNMT gene, encoding an enzyme that interferes with NAD metabolism, is required for the ability of mice to incorporate dietary fat into adipose tissue. Dr. Brenner's News and Views piece in Nature highlights prior work by Dr. Dale Abel, the Director of the FOEDRC, on adipose tissue metabolism and illustrates multiple mechanisms by which inhibition of NNMT may allow a mouse to resist weight gain. Similar strategies are likely to be tested for weight loss in model systems such as the mouse.