'At-TRIB(1)-uting' a gene a new function in the liver
Specific, relatively uncommon variations at a region of human chromosome 8 have recently been linked to fat (lipid) levels in the blood that decrease an individual's risk of atherosclerosis (a disease of the major arterial blood vessels that is a main cause of heart attack and stroke). The only currently described gene in this region of chromosome 8 is TRIB1, but it has not been previously linked in any way to regulation of lipid levels.
Now, a team of researchers, led by Jan Breslow, at The Rockefeller University, New York, and Daniel Rader, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, has identified in mice a role for this gene in regulating lipid production by the liver.
Specifically, overexpression of Trib1 in the liver decreased levels of lipids such as cholesterol in the blood, while lack of Trib1 increased levels of the same lipids. These data suggest that TRIB1 is the gene responsible for the associations between chromosome 8 and lipid levels in the blood.