How can you be healthy and fit? The simple answer is “less food and more exercise,” but Rogers State University biology professor Dr. Jin Seo and a group of RSU students hypothesized there could be some genetic components in the equation.
Seo and his students have searched for “obesity” genes using the fruit fly model. With their research, they have systematically altered expression of microRNA genes and observed the changes of microRNA expression generating skinny or obese flies.
Their research identified a novel gene which regulates fat contents in fruit flies and the research was published this summer. The study, “Screening of microRNAs controlling body fat in Drosophila melanogaster and identification of miR-969 and its target, Gr47b,” was published last month by PLOS One, a peer-reviewed open access scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science. The journal focuses on primary research from disciplines within science and medicine.
They identified miR-969 as an essential regulator of fat contents by screening over 200 microRNA lines and further demonstrated that gustatory receptor 47 (Gr47b) is a key downstream regulator of miR-969 in adipose tissue. Since obesity is closely linked to other metabolic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancers, this novel finding could lead to new therapeutics to obesity and its related diseases.
The students involved in the research were: William Redmond, Dylan Allen, M. Christian Elledge, Russell Arellanes, Lucille Redmond, Jared Yeahquo, Austin Reiner, and Shuyin Zhang. They are all RSU biology graduates with Allen, Arellanes, Lucille Redmond and Zhang in medical school, Elledge studying in graduate school, Reiner working for a biomedical company, and William Redmond working in Seo’s lab at RSU. One of the authors, Lucille Redmond, submitted related search and honored with a first-place award at Oklahoma’s Research Day at the Capitol in 2017.
Dr. Seo joined the RSU faculty in 2013. He earned his doctorate in microbiology from the University of Texas-Austin, a master’s degree in genetic engineering from Seoul National University in South Korea, and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Yonsei University in Seoul. He was honored as the 2015 and 2016 recipient of RSU’s Pfizer Excellence in Scholarship/Research.
RSU’s Department of Biology offers a bachelor’s degree in biology with options in medical/molecular biology and environmental conservation, as well as an associate degree in biology and a minor in biology. The medical/molecular degree option has proved to be an effective preparation for students pursuing medically related professional graduate programs. More than 100 RSU students have been successfully placed in professional graduate programs including medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences, and more.
For more information about RSU’s biology programs, visit www.rsu.edu/biology.