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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Apr 16, 1996; 93(8): 3434–3438.

Obese gene expression: reduction by fasting and stimulation by insulin and glucose in lean mice, and persistent elevation in acquired (diet-induced) and genetic (yellow agouti) obesity.


Mutations in the obese (ob) gene lead to obesity. This gene has been recently cloned, but the factors regulating its expression have not been elucidated. To address the regulation of the ob gene with regard to body weight and nutritional factors, Northern blot analysis was used to assess ob mRNA in adipose tissue from mice [lean, obese due to diet, or genetically (yellow agouti) obese] under different nutritional conditions. ob mRNA was elevated in both forms of obesity, compared to lean controls, correlated with elevations in plasma insulin and body weight, but not plasma glucose. In lean C57BL/6J mice, but not in mice with diet-induced obesity, ob mRNA decreased after a 48-hr fast. Similarly, in lean C57BL/6J controls, but not in obese yellow mice, i.p. glucose injection significantly increased ob mRNA. For up to 30 min after glucose injection, ob mRNA in lean mice significantly correlated with plasma glucose, but not with plasma insulin. In a separate study with only lean mice, ob mRNA was inhibited >90% by fasting, and elevated approximately 2-fold 30 min after i.p. injection of either glucose or insulin. These results suggest that in lean animals glucose and insulin enhance ob gene expression. In contrast to our results in lean mice, in obese animals ob mRNA is elevated and relatively insensitive to nutritional state, possibly due to chronic exposure to elevated plasma insulin and/or glucose.

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Selected References

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