It turned out that our body weight is directly linked to the reproductive power. “Failure” of genetic mechanism responsible for appetite and weight “turns” fertility off. The discovery was made by American biologists. Their study has been published in Nature Medicine Journal. Authors of the article, scientists from Salk Institute for Biological Studies, were studying appetite regulation involving the gene known as TORC1.
This gene plays a major role in nervous regulation of metabolism and controls fat tissue formation in the first place. The head of the study Dr. Marc Montminy says that the gene determines not only how much we eat but also our reproductive ability.
Scientists created mice without TORC1 gene. Mice without TORC1 looked normal at birth, but at about eight weeks, they began to gain weight rapidly with two to three times as much fat as normal mice. To their surprise, the scientists also discovered that “genetically modified” mice of both sexes were infertile.
According to scientists, TORC1 is responsible for the production of a protein mediator that actives two genes after having a meal. One gene suppresses appetite; the other tells the brain the body is ready for reproduction. The lack of TORC1 ruins the mechanism – there is nothing to turn the appetite off, which leads to obesity, and the brain doesn’t receive a reproduction signal.
The scientists point out that this link between appetite and reproduction is crucial for evolution process. If the body doesn’t get enough food, it won’t be able to feed the offspring. So the mechanism turns off, allowing to save energy and survive in severe conditions. The researchers believe their findings will help in developing drugs against obesity.