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Possible overeating antidote

Aug. 1, 2016, 8:00 AM

The 2C-subtype of the serotonin receptor (5HT2C), which binds the neurotransmitter serotonin, plays an important role in regulating food intake and metabolism.

Now researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine have found another potential way to reduce food intake through a technique called alternative pre-mRNA splicing. Precursor mRNA is immature messenger RNA transcribed directly from the DNA template. Alternative splicing is a natural process in which different mRNAs transcribed from the same gene are translated into different proteins.

Kentucky’s Stefan Stamm, Ph.D., VUMC’s Ronald Emeson, Ph.D., and colleagues developed an oligonucleotide, a synthetic piece of RNA, which changed the way the 5HT2C gene was “spliced” and expressed.

Earlier this month in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, they reported that mice injected with the oligonucleotide consumed less food, suggesting that modulation of 5HT2C alternative splicing may represent a promising therapeutic strategy for treating obesity.

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