Team identifies obesity-curbing gene, finds mice with low count plump out


An international team said Friday it has identified a gene that plays an important role in curbing obesity.

Mice in which the gene was artificially made deficient grew twice as heavy as ordinary mice, according to a report the team of Japanese and non-Japanese researchers published in the U.S. journal Science.

The finding “is expected to help develop new obesity drugs,” said team member Masato Asai, a special lecturer at Nagoya University. He said techniques to fatten cattle using less feed may also be developed.

The gene is melanocortin 2 receptor accessory protein 2, or MRAP2, which works in the hypothalamus, a part of the brain.

The team compared 1-month-old MRAP2-deficient and ordinary mice by giving them as much food as they could eat. They were kept for 150 days.

The MRAP2-deficient mice ate about 10 percent more than the ordinary mice and weighed around 50 grams, twice as much as the ordinary mice.