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Same Type 2 Diabetes Gene Discovered in Mice and Humans

Update Date: Sep 11, 2014 08:37 PM EDT

Type 2 diabetes is another thing humans have in common when mice.

After carrying out a detailed study of the DNA and phenotypes of 183 related mice, scientists were able to "exactly assess the influence of the environment on the expression of certain genes and the way this affects clinical features and the risk for developing diseases," researcher Johan Auwerx, director of the Laboratory of integrative systems physiology, said in a news release.

Researchers said that the latest findings show that it is possible to analyze the presence of hundreds of proteins from a single sample and establish what experts call each individual's "proteome".

After merging each rodent's genome, phenome, proteome and metabolome, scientists discovered a particular gene on chromosome 2 that plays an important role in the development of type 2 diabetes.

"The mice with a high-fat diet are more or less likely to develop diabetes depending on whether this gene is active or not," co-researcher Evan Williams, LISP PhD student, said in a news release. "By combining our various 'layers' of information, we were able to establish exactly the process that leads from the presence of this gene to an increased risk of diabetes."

Researchers also found reliable evidence that low urinary levels of a specific "metabolite" that varies in concentration depending on the presence of the identified gene significantly predicts diabetes in mice, while body fat did not.

"The strength of this correlation prompted us to ask ourselves whether it would also occur in the case of humans," said Williams adding that recent research of 1,000 people revealed that the rate of 2-aminoadipase was significantly lower in diabetic patients than in healthy individuals.

"Thanks to this innovative approach that connects several layers of information, we were able to identify a urinary marker that can easily detect the presence of a case of diabetes," Auwerx concluded. "It is very exciting to see that we can now translate research results from one species to another. To me, a new age for biology, and soon medicine, has just begun."

The findings were published today in Cell Metabolism.

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