Fatty acid regulation of gene expression

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Title Fatty acid regulation of gene expression: a genomic explanation for the benefits of the Mediterranean diet
Author(s) S. D. Clarke, D. Gasperikova, Carolanne M. Nelson, A. Lapillonne, W. C. Heird
Journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Date 2002
Volume 967
Issue
Start page 283
End page 298
Abstract The development of obesity and associated insulin resistance involves a multitude of gene products, including proteins involved in lipid synthesis and oxidation, thermogenesis, and cell differentiation. The genes encoding these proteins are in essence the blueprints that we have inherited from our parents. However, what determines the way in which blueprints are interpreted is largely dictated by a collection of environmental factors. The nutrients we consume are among the most influential of these environmental factors. During the early stages of evolutionary development, nutrients functioned as primitive hormonal signals that allowed the early organisms to turn on pathways of synthesis or storage during periods of nutrient deprivation or excess. As single-cell organisms evolved into complex life forms, nutrients continued to be environmental factors that interacted with hormonal signals to govern the expression of genes encoding proteins involved in energy metabolism, cell differentiation, and cell growth. Nutrients govern the tissue content and activity of different proteins by functioning as regulators of gene transcription, nuclear RNA processing, mRNA degradation, and mRNA translation, as well as functioning as posttranslational modifiers of proteins. One dietary constituent that has a strong influence on cell differentiation, growth, and metabolism is fat. The fatty acid component of dietary lipid not only influences hormonal signaling events by modifying membrane lipid composition, but fatty acids have a very strong direct influence on the molecular events that govern gene expression. In this review, we discuss the influence that (n-9), (n-6), and (n-3) fatty acids exert on gene expression in the liver and skeletal muscle and the impact this has on intra- and interorgan partitioning of metabolic fuels.

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