Research highlight

Epigenetics: Mapping fat genes in pigs

Nature Communications

May 23, 2012

A map of genes modified in adipose, or fat, tissue in three breeds of pigs is reported in Nature Communications this week. The three breeds of pigs each have different fat contents and therefore these findings may have important implications for genes involved in obesity.

Genes can be modified by methylation of the DNA - this is known as epigenetic regulation - and affects gene expression. To understand the role of epigenetics in obesity Xuewei Li and Ruiqiang Li, and colleagues mapped the epigenetic marks on genes found in adipose tissue. They used tissue from three different pig breeds that have been bred for different fat contents and 8 different body sites. They found that there were differences in methylation patterns between different sexes, breeds and anatomic locations. These results provide a platform for understanding the regulation of gene expression in obesity and adipose tissue regulation.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms1854

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