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On Sabbatical at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, Eckerd College Biochemist Investigates “HOTAIR”

By Randolph Fillmore

Researchers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital’s Institute for Fundamental Biomedical Research (JHACH IFBR) are part of a team investigating health risks for women with two different patterns of body fat deposition.

It is known that women with excess subcutaneous adipose tissue located in the abdomen (A-FAT), creating an “apple-shaped” body, are at greater risk for obesity-related health problems than women who weigh the same but carry excess hip and thigh subcutaneous fat (G-FAT), the kind of fat that creates a distinctive “pear” body shape.

Their current efforts are focused on gaining a better understanding of the molecular differences between the two different body shapes created by A-FAT and G-FAT and how each body shape is related to the prevalence of metabolic disease.

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“In our search for the reasons behind health problems related to body fat patterning, we found that lower body fat — G-FAT, but not upper body fat — A-FAT  —expresses a long noncoding RNA (LncRNA) called HOTAIR,” says Timothy F. Osborne, Ph.D., associate dean for basic research and director of the IFBR. “We hypothesized that HOTAIR interacts with proteins in the adipose cell nucleus to selectively alter expression of key adipose related genes.”

To further investigate G-FAT and HOTAIR, the IFBR researchers enlisted the help of Crystal Young-Erdos, Ph.D., a biochemist from nearby Eckerd College who has significant research experience working with RNA binding proteins, which fits well with this project.

Read more:  Read the full story by Randy Fillmore

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