Researchers at the University of Chicago have discovered a new genetic link to obesity. The findings build upon the 2007 discovery of a gene named FTO that was found to correlate to obesity. After its discovery, scientists began trying to figure out more about how FTO works.
FTO is involved in a ribonucleic acid (RNA) process, methylation, that adds or subtracts methyl groups from the base substance adenosine. FTO removes a group. This process influences protein functions, including metabolism.
FTO was thought to only apply to one rarely occurring methyl group on the adenosine. The team in Chicago discovered that FTO also works on the more common types of RNA. They also determined that the methylation process is reversible. The discovery could lead to a broader understanding of genetic obesity.