Chronology of leptin research (A history of leptin research)




In 1950. researchers at Jackson Laboratories noticed that one of their mice had become extremely obese—it had an insatiable appetite. Intrigued, they bred a strain of mice showing this characteristic. In the late 1960s, researchers surgically connected the bloodstreams of a normal mouse and a mouse of the obese strain. Afterwards. the obese mouse ate less and lost weight. It seemed that some factor circulating in the blood of normal mice was missing in the obese ones. But what was it? In 1994, researchers at Rockefeller University pinpointed the gene mutation associated with the obesity trait. This ob gene encodes the protein hormone now called leptin. The ob gene was inserted into bacteria, and the recombinant bacteria were grown in culture to produce a large quantity of leptin. When mice of the obese strain were injected with the recombinant leptin, they ate less and lost weight. Researchers concluded that leptin is a key heritable factor that affects regulation of body weight.



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