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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016, Article ID 7281732, 11 pages
Research Article

Identification and Evolutionary Analysis of Potential Candidate Genes in a Human Eating Disorder

Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, University of Missouri-Kansas City, 5007 Rockhill Road, Room 521, Spencer Chemistry Building, Kansas City, MO 64110, USA

Received 15 December 2015; Revised 11 February 2016; Accepted 22 February 2016

Academic Editor: Luoying Zhang

Copyright © 2016 Ubadah Sabbagh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The purpose of this study was to find genes linked with eating disorders and associated with both metabolic and neural systems. Our operating hypothesis was that there are genetic factors underlying some eating disorders resting in both those pathways. Specifically, we are interested in disorders that may rest in both sleep and metabolic function, generally called Night Eating Syndrome (NES). A meta-analysis of the Gene Expression Omnibus targeting the mammalian nervous system, sleep, and obesity studies was performed, yielding numerous genes of interest. Through a text-based analysis of the results, a number of potential candidate genes were identified. VGF, in particular, appeared to be relevant both to obesity and, broadly, to brain or neural development. VGF is a highly connected protein that interacts with numerous targets via proteolytically digested peptides. We examined VGF from an evolutionary perspective to determine whether other available evidence supported a role for the gene in human disease. We conclude that some of the already identified variants in VGF from human polymorphism studies may contribute to eating disorders and obesity. Our data suggest that there is enough evidence to warrant eGWAS and GWAS analysis of these genes in NES patients in a case-control study.