Current Diabetes Reports

, 14:486

FTO and Obesity: Mechanisms of Association

  • Xu Zhao
  • Ying Yang
  • Bao-Fa Sun
  • Yong-Liang Zhao
  • Yun-Gui Yang
Obesity (J McCaffery, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Obesity


The Fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) gene is a newly identified genetic factor for obesity. However, the exact molecular mechanisms responsible for the effect of FTO on obesity remain largely unknown. Recent studies from genome-wide associated studies reveal that genetic variants in the FTO gene are associated not only with human adiposity and metabolic disorders, but also with cancer, a highly obesity-associated disease as well. Data from animal and cellular models further demonstrate that the perturbation of FTO enzymatic activity dysregulates genes related to energy metabolism, causing the malfunction of energy and adipose tissue homeostasis in mice. The most significant advance about FTO research is the recent discovery of FTO as the first N6-methyl-adenosine (m6A) RNA demethylase that catalyzes the m6A demethylation in α-ketoglutarate - and Fe2+-dependent manners. This finding provides the strong evidence that the dynamic and reversible chemical m6A modification on RNA may act as a novel epitranscriptomic marker. Furthermore, the FTO protein was observed to be partially localized onto nuclear speckles enriching mRNA processing factors, implying a potential role of FTO in regulating RNA processing. This review summarizes the recent progress about biological functions of FTO through disease-association studies as well as the data from in vitro and in vivo models, and highlights the biochemical features of FTO that might be linked to obesity.


FTO Obesity N6-methyl-adenosine (m6A) RNA methylation Epitranscriptome 


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xu Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ying Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bao-Fa Sun
    • 1
  • Yong-Liang Zhao
    • 1
  • Yun-Gui Yang
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratory of Genome Variations and Precision BiomedicineBeijing Institute of Genomics, Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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