, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp 130-144

Molecular mapping of obesity genes

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Advances in molecular genetics have made it possible to clone mutant genes from mammals. This capability should facilitate efforts to determine the genetic factors that control food intake and body composition. In order to identify these genetic factors, we have been making use of mouse mutations that cause obesity. The basic premise of this approach is to take advantage of the mouse as a genetic system for the analysis of genetically complex disorders and to then apply that information to the study of human disease. This paper reviews: (1) current concepts concerning the control of body weight in man and other mammals; (2) the biologic characteristics of the mouse obesity mutations; (3) our progress in the use of positional cloning techniques to clone the mouse obese (ob) and diabetes (db) genes; (4) an approach to polygenic obesity in mice; and (5) the possible relevance of the mouse obesity mutations to human obesity.