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Tuesday, April 18, 2000

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BioResearch Online Microarrays Used to Discover What Genes Are Regulated by Leptin
"In an article in the April 15 issue of the journal Genes & Development, Jeffrey M. Friedman, Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and his colleagues at The Rockefeller University (New York) report that the “fat” hormone leptin alters gene expression in fat cells. Using expression arrays, the researchers found the pattern of expressed genes changed in fat cells following administration of leptin."

"To discover how exactly leptin causes weight loss, Friedman and colleagues took mRNA samples from the fat cells of normal mice and leptin minus mice given the hormone, and interrogated a chip array containing probes for thousands of genes. The researchers found that mice lacking leptin that were given the hormone had a different expression profile than those not given the hormone, indicating that at least some of leptin’s effects are due to effects on transcription."

Analyzing data from many such experiments with the mice, the scientists were able to group the expressed genes into clusters that appeared to behave similarly—increasing or decreasing in expression in tandem—as the mice were subjected to different regimes of leptin treatment or food restriction."

"We were able to find at least half a dozen distinct clusters of genes that were specifically regulated by leptin and that were not regulated in the same way by food restriction," said Friedman. "So leptin is doing a lot more than just leading to food intake restriction.""

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Bioinformatics will be at the core of biology in the 21st century. In fields ranging from structural biology to genomics to biomedical imaging, ready access to data and analytical tools are fundamentally changing the way investigators in the life sciences conduct research and approach problems. Complex, computationally intensive biological problems are now being addressed and promise to significantly advance our understanding of biology and medicine. No biological discipline will be unaffected by these technological breakthroughs.


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