Scientists discover 'master switch' that may play a role in type 2 diabetes, obesity-related conditions

Many individuals admire their parents and credit them for providing love and support throughout one's life. However, some people may be interested to learn that their mothers may have given them a genetic surprise that, until now, has not been identified as a contributor to metabolic diseases.

According to a recent study published in the journal Nature Genetics, a person inherits two copies of each gene - one from his or her mother and another from the father. One particular gene called KLF14 had previously been linked to type 2 diabetes and cholesterol levels, but researchers did not realize that this part of an individual's DNA was a "master switch" for other genetic material found within body fat.

Since the scientists believe that KLF14 determines whether or not adipose genes are expressed, they also think that this molecule may play a role in the development of fat-related metabolic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Other genes that were found to be controlled by KLF14 include those associated with body mass index (BMI), cholesterol, insulin and blood glucose levels.

"KLF14 seems to act as a master switch controlling processes that connect changes in the behavior of subcutaneous fat to disturbances in muscle and liver that contribute to diabetes and other conditions. We are working hard right now to understand these processes and how we can use this information to improve treatment of these conditions," said lead researcher Mark McCarthy.

Type 2 diabetes is the most frequently diagnosed form of the disease. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that individuals who are overweight are more likely than those with a healthy BMI to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes because fat interferes with the body's ability to use insulin to control blood sugar levels.

The organization recommends that overweight children be screened for type 2 diabetes at least once every two years.