The FTO gene, implicated in human obesity, is found only in vertebrates and marine algae.
Human obesity is a main cause of morbidity and mortality. Recently, several studies have demonstrated an association between the FTO gene locus and early onset and severe obesity. To date, the FTO gene has only been discovered in vertebrates. We identified FTO homologs in the complete genome sequences of various evolutionary diverse marine eukaryotic algae, ranging from unicellular photosynthetic picoplankton to a multicellular seaweed. However, FTO homologs appear to be absent from all other completely sequenced genomes of plants, fungi, and invertebrate animals. Although the biological roles of these marine algal FTO homologs are still unknown, these genes will be useful for exploring basic protein features and could hence help unravel the function of the FTO gene in vertebrates and its inferred link with obesity in humans.
Robbens, S., Rouzé, P., Cock, M., Spring, J., Worden, A.Z., Van de Peer, Y. (2008) The FTO gene, implicated in human obesity, is found only in vertebrates and marine algae. J. Mol. Evol. 66(1):80-4.
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