Insights into the etiology of human obesity have arisen from the study of animal models. Animal models of obesity are also important for the development of future treatments of obesity. An agouti mouse mutation resulting in obese, yellow mice was described over a century ago and in 1992 agouti was cloned, making it the first obesity gene characterized at the molecular level. The lethal yellow mouse mutation is one of five dominant agouti mutations and is an excellent model for human obesity. The molecular categorization of agouti was responsible for the elucidation of the melanocortin system's involvement in hypothalamic weight regulation. As genetic knowledge increases many transgenic mice have been created with genes either over-expressed or deleted, models which further enhance the understanding of obesity.
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