Washington, Mar 20 (ANI): A team of American researchers has identified a gene that plays a critical regulatory role in the process of converting dietary carbohydrates to fat.
In a new study, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, disabled this gene in mice, which consequently had lower levels of body fat than their normal counterparts, despite being fed the equivalent of an all-you-can-eat pasta buffet.
The authors of the study say that the gene, called DNA-PK, could potentially play a role in the prevention of obesity related to the over-consumption of high-carbohydrate foods, such as pasta, rice, soda and sugary snacks.
DNA-PK, which stands for DNA-dependent protein kinase, has already been the subject of much research because it helps repair breaks in the DNA.
Suppression of DNA-PK has been used as a technique by researchers to enhance the ability of cancer treatments to kill tumour cells.
Its role in fat synthesis came as a surprise to the UC Berkeley researchers.
"It turns out that DNA-PK is critical to a metabolic process we have been trying to understand for 20 years," said Hei Sook Sul, a professor in UC Berkeley's Department of Nutritional Science and Toxicology and head of the research team behind these new findings.
"For the first time, we have connected DNA-PK to the signaling pathway involved in the formation of fat from carbohydrates in the liver. Identifying this signaling pathway involving DNA-PK brings us one step forward in understanding obesity resulting from a diet high in carbohydrates, and could possibly serve as a potential pharmacological target for obesity prevention," Sul added.
The study is to be published in the March 20 issue of the journal Cell. (ANI)