Background: Mesoderm-specific transcript (MEST) is an epoxide α/β-hydrolase protein with catalytic activity that is determinant for the development of adipocytes. The MEST gene is an imprinted gene transcribed only from the paternal allele. Although the mechanism by which MEST overexpression augments fat accumulation and storage in adipocytes has not been fully elucidated, frequent subcellular contacts between MEST-positive endoplasmic reticulum, mitochondria and lipid droplets have been shown. This suggests that mitochondrial affectation might be involved. To date, no pathogenic human mutations have been reported in MEST.
Objective: The present study aimed to characterize potential variants in the MEST gene in children with early-onset severe obesity.
Results: We report a total of 14 family members from seven unrelated families presenting with hyperphagia, insulin resistance and body mass index (BMI) greater than 3.5 SDS for age and sex. These patients were shown to present MEST variants as a result of mCpG disruptions in chr7:130131207, chr7:130132310, chr7:130132836 or chr7:130132925 sites. Biopsies of subcutaneous fat were obtained for histology, immunohistochemistry and ultrastructural analysis by transmission electron microscopy (TEM). MEST mutations, without any other obesity-related single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) or copy number variations (CNV), were associated with increased immunoreactivity for MEST in adipocytes and hypertrophy of adipocytes. Interestingly, ultrastructural observations of adipocytes by TEM indicated a reduction in the mitochondrial area in patients with MEST mutations and with no other SNP/CNV.
Conclusions: These observations provide important insights into the regulation of adiposity by MEST in humans, and suggest a possible implication of mitochondrial activity in this process. Moreover, affectation of this gene appears to be involved in the development of human obesity.
27 - 29 Sep 2018
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology