Genetics of fat regulation and neurobiology of feeding behavior
Obesity is a major risk factor associated with many diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases, arthritis, and certain forms of cancers. The prevalence of obesity reflects the combination of high calorie diets with sedentary lifestyles. However, genetic predispositions play profound roles in determination of an individual’s fat. How genetic and environmental factor interact to determine fat content and how excess fat accumulation causes disease processes are poorly understood. To identify genes that underlie fat regulation we use the genetically tractable worm C. elegans. This system has allowed us to discover novel fat regulatory pathways, compounds that alter fat content, and probe the neural circuits that regulate fat and feeding.