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GEN News Highlights : Aug 20, 2007

Virus Turns Adult Stem Cells into Fat Cells

Ad-36’s E4Orfl gene is involved in fat accumulation in animals.

Infection with human adenovirus-36 (Ad-36) transforms adult stem cells obtained from fat tissue into fat cells, according to Pennington Biomedical Research Center scientists. They also identified a specific gene in the virus involved in this process.

Previous studies showed that the Ad-36 virus was capable of causing infected animals to accumulate fat. In the current research, the team obtained adult stem cells from fatty tissue of a broad cross-section of patients who had undergone liposuction. Half of the stem cells were exposed to Ad-36.

After about a week of growth in tissue culture, most of the virus-infected adult stem cells developed into fat cells, whereas the noninfected stem cells did not.

Furthermore, the group also identified a gene in the Ad-36 virus, E4Orfl, that appears to cause the fat accumulation observed in infected animals.

The findings were presented at the “234th national meeting of the American Chemical Society.”