Genetic tinkering creates obesity-resistant mice

A research team developed a group of transgenic mice that were unable to release a subset of GABA neurotransmitters, creating a breed of rodents that was resistant to obesity. The scientific team says the mice ate the same amount as a control group, but that they were engineered to burn energy at a much faster pace. The genetic tinkering also made the mice more resistant to the hormone ghrelin, which creates a feeling of hunger.

The researchers also helped explain the role of pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons that receive the GABA signal.

"The function of AgRP neurons is probably to reserve the energy for maintaining life," said lead study author Qingchun Tong. "So if the animal doesn't have enough food, the animal should have some strategy to preserve energy, and this group of neurons, by releasing GABA, restrains energy expenditure to maintain enough energy to survive under the conditions in which food is not readily available."

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