Weight gain and weight loss – a complicated story

I’m sure a lot of you, like me, have signed up to receive free GenomeWeb Daily News Bulletins. In yesterday’s email, I saw an article featuring research about the number of genes effecting weight in mice. I found the article interesting not only because it reminds me of certain reoccurring New Year’s resolutions that I have, but also because it is another example of how information in public databases, in this case MGI, is being used in important research. The original research article, from the lab of Michael G. Tordoff, is published in BMC Genetics, and it describes how the authors noticed that in the small chromosomal area that they were studying many gene knockouts affected the weight of the mice. To assess whether this was just a chance occurrence or a general effect, they scanned MGI for knockouts that were associated with a change in weight, either up or down. Of course there is a lot more to their research than I can explain here, but they estimate that perhaps over 6000 genes effect weight in mice, and suggest that researchers using knockout mice for disease research should be aware of this possible complicating factor. I always knew weight was a complicated thing, but never guessed it was THAT complicated – no wonder my New Year’s resolutions are so hard!