A gene dubbed "adipose," identified more than 50 years ago in fruit flies, has now been found to regulate thinness, or its opposite, in worms and mice, according to a study in the journal Cell Metabolism. Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center have determined that the the gene is not merely a binary switch resulting in obesity or emaciation, but can be regulated to induce a particular weight, MSNBC reports.
In nature, the varying efficiencies of adipose results in a variety of weights, ensuring that some segment of the population will be suited to survive either feast or famine. "This gene is in every organism from worms to humans," says the study’s senior author, Jonathan Graff. "We all have it. It's very striking."