US scientists discover cholesterol-removing gene

Scientists have identified a gene which might be helpful to prevent a heart disease by removing excess cholesterol from blood vessels. The gene called MeXis was discovered in a study, done on mice.

Researchers at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the US found that MeXis controls the expression of a protein that removes cholesterol out of cells from the artery wall.

MeXis gene categorised as ‘selfish gene’ was initially presumed to be function less as it was not producing any protein. But the latest studies have revealed that instead of producing protein itself, the gene controls the expression of the protein by producing a special class of molecules called long non-coding RNAs, or lncRNAs .

Peter Tontonoz, professor at UCLA said, “this study reveals that lncRNAs are important for the inner workings of cells involved in the development of heart disease.”

“Considering many genes like MeXis have completely unknown functions, our study suggests that further exploring how other long non-coding RNAs act will lead to exciting insights into both normal physiology and disease,” Tontonoz further stated.

US scientists have discovered that mice with normal MeXis level had lesser number of blockages than those lacking the gene. It was also found that boosting MeXis levels made cells more effective at removing excess cholesterol.


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