In 2007, an association of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene region with body mass index (BMI) and risk of obesity was identified in multiple populations, making FTO the first locus unequivocally associated with adiposity. At the time, FTO was a gene of unknown function and it was not known whether these SNPs exerted their effect on adiposity by affecting FTO or neighboring genes. Therefore, this breakthrough association inspired a wealth of in silico, in vitro, and in vivo analyses in model organisms and humans to improve knowledge of FTO function. These studies suggested that FTO plays a role in controlling feeding behavior and energy expenditure. Here, we review the approaches taken that provide a blueprint for the study of other obesity-associated genes in the hope that this strategy will result in increased understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying body weight regulation.
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