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A family-based association study identified CYP17 as a candidate gene for obesity susceptibility in Caucasians

Author(s): H. Yan, Y. Guo, T.-L. Yang, L.-J. Zhao and H.-W. Deng

The cytochrome P450c17α gene (CYP17) encodes a key biosynthesis enzyme of estrogen, which is critical in regulating adipogenesis and adipocyte development in humans. We therefore hypothesized that CYP17 is a candidate gene for predicting obesity. In order to test this hypothesis, we performed a family-based association test to investigate the relationship between the CYP17 gene and obesity phenotypes in a large sample comprising 1873 subjects from 405 Caucasian nuclear families of European origin recruited by the Osteoporosis Research Center of Creighton University, USA. Both single SNPs and haplotypes were tested for associations with obesity-related phenotypes, including body mass index (BMI) and fat mass. We identified three SNPs to be significantly associated with BMI, including rs3740397, rs6163, and rs619824. We further characterized the linkage disequilibrium structure for CYP17 and found that the whole CYP17 gene was located in a single-linkage disequilibrium block. This block was observed to be significantly associated with BMI. A major haplotype in this block was significantly associated with both BMI and fat mass. In conclusion, we suggest that the CYP17 gene has an effect on obesity in the Caucasian population. Further independent studies will be needed to confirm our findings.