Professor Tim Spector at King's College London, Mark McCarthy at Oxford University, Dr. Panos Deloukas at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Professor Emmanouil Demitzakis at the University of Geneva and a consortium of some 30 scientists examined the skin, fat and blood cells as well as hundreds of clinical traits of 850 female twins.
The five-year Multiple Tissue Human Expression Resource study, examined more than 20,000 genes in subcutaneous fat biopsies from the female twin volunteers.
The study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, found an association between the KLF14 gene and the expression levels of multiple distant genes found in fat tissue -- which means it acts as a master switch to control these genes.
The findings were confirmed in an independent sample of 600 subcutaneous fat biopsies from Icelandic subjects, the researchers said.
The KLF14 gene, inherited from the mother, controls a range of metabolic traits, including body-mass index or obesity, cholesterol, insulin and glucose levels, the study said.
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