Extreme obesity is associated with variation in genes related to the circadian rhythm of food intake and hypothalamic signaling

E.C. Mariman*, F.G. Bouwman, E. Erik Aller, M.A. van Baak, P. Wang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The hypothalamus is important for regulation of energy intake. Mutations in genes involved in the function of the hypothalamus can lead to early-onset severe obesity. To look further into this, we have followed a strategy that allowed us to identify rare and common gene variants as candidates for the background of extreme obesity from a relatively small cohort. For that we focused on subjects with a well-selected phenotype and on a defined gene set, and used a rich source of genetic data with stringent cut-off values. A list of 166 genes functionally related to the hypothalamus was generated. In those genes complete exome sequence data from 30 extreme obese subjects (60 genomes) were screened for novel rare indel, nonsense and missense variants with a predicted negative impact on protein function. In addition, (moderately) common variants in those genes were analyzed for allelic association using the general population as reference (FDR<0.05). Six novel rare deleterious missense variants were found in the genes for BAIAP3, NBEA, PRRC2A, RYR1, SIM1 and TRH, and a novel indel variant in LEPR. Common variants in the six genes for MBOAT4, NPC1, NPW, NUCB2, PER1 and PRRC2A showed significant allelic association with extreme obesity. Our findings underscore the complexity of the genetic background of extreme obesity involving rare and common variants of genes from defined metabolic and physiologic processes, in particular regulation of the circadian rhythm of food intake and hypothalamic signaling.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-231
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiological genomics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


  • extreme obesity
  • genetic variation
  • hypothalamus
  • signaling
  • circadian rhythm
  • PER1


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