Discovering genes associated with lower ability to store subcutaneous fat at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research

Posted 1 week ago

This is a project proposal for a student opportunity at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR).

Position: This is a project proposal for a student opportunity at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research (CBMR).

Background: Adipose tissue has an important role in metabolic homeostasis. An impaired ability to store fat subcutaneously induces fat deposition in visceral fat and ectopic tissues, such as the muscle and liver, leading to abnormalities in lipid, glucose and insulin homeostasis. The physical limits in which subcutaneous fat tissue can expand are defined by the extracellular matrix present in the tissue: an impairment in the structural components and proteins that regulate the organization of the extracellular matrix are associated with fibrosis, inflammation, and local hypoxia. Despite the importance, a systematic and unbiased approach to identify causal extracellular matrix-related protein-coding genes associated with a limited ability to expand subcutaneous fat is yet to be performed.

The project: The project will identify and characterize protein-coding genes implicated in organization of the adipose extracellular matrix and causally associated with lower subcutaneous fat storage on the hip. First, SNPs associated with the expression levels (eQTLs) of extracellular matrix-related protein-coding genes will be identified. Following, mendelian randomization will be performed to assess whether increased expression of those genes is causally associated with a lower ability to store subcutaneous fat.

The student: A bioinformatics student interested in learning about the latest genetics tools and the role of extracellular matrix genes in metabolic health.

Contact: Please contact Associate Professor Tuomas Kilpeläinen (tuomas.kilpelainen@sund.ku.dk) or Research Assistant Mario Garcia Ureña (mario.garcia.urena@sund.ku.dk) for more information about this project.

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