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Hypothalamic melanocortin neurons play a pivotal role in weight regulation. Here, we examined the contribution of Semaphorin 3 (SEMA3) signaling to the development of these circuits. In genetic studies, we found 40 rare variants in SEMA3A-G and their receptors (PLXNA1-4; NRP1-2) in 573 severely obese individuals; variants disrupted secretion and/or signaling through multiple molecular mechanisms. Rare variants in this set of genes were significantly enriched in 982 severely obese cases compared to 4,449 controls. In a zebrafish mutagenesis screen, deletion of 7 genes in this pathway led to increased somatic growth and/or adiposity demonstrating that disruption of Semaphorin 3 signaling perturbs energy homeostasis. In mice, deletion of the Neuropilin-2 receptor in Pro-opiomelanocortin neurons disrupted their projections from the arcuate to the paraventricular nucleus, reduced energy expenditure, and caused weight gain. Cumulatively, these studies demonstrate that SEMA3-mediated signaling drives the development of hypothalamic melanocortin circuits involved in energy homeostasis.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Energy stores in fat tissue are determined in part by the activity of hypothalamic neurones expressing the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R). Even a partial reduction in MC4R expression levels in mice, rats or humans produces hyperphagia and morbid obesity. Thus, it is of great interest to understand the molecular basis of neuromodulation by the MC4R. The MC4R is a G protein-coupled receptor that signals efficiently through Gα , and this signalling pathway is essential for normal MC4R function in vivo. However, previous data from hypothalamic slice preparations indicated that activation of the MC4R depolarised neurones via G protein-independent regulation of the ion channel Kir7.1. In the present study, we show that deletion of Kcnj13 (ie, the gene encoding Kir7.1) specifically from MC4R neurones produced resistance to melanocortin peptide-induced depolarisation of MC4R paraventricular nucleus neurones in brain slices, resistance to the sustained anorexic effect of exogenously administered melanocortin peptides, late onset obesity, increased linear growth and glucose intolerance. Some MC4R-mediated phenotypes appeared intact, including Agouti-related peptide-induced stimulation of food intake and MC4R-mediated induction of peptide YY release from intestinal L cells. Thus, a subset of the consequences of MC4R signalling in vivo appears to be dependent on expression of the Kir7.1 channel in MC4R cells.
© 2018 British Society for Neuroendocrinology.
Like most homeostatic systems, adiposity in mammals is defended between upper and lower boundary conditions. While leptin and melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) signaling are required for defending energy set point, mechanisms controlling upper and lower homeostatic boundaries are less well understood. In contrast to the MC4R, deletion of the MC3R does not produce measurable hyperphagia or hypometabolism under normal conditions. However, we demonstrate that MC3R is required bidirectionally for controlling responses to external homeostatic challenges, such as caloric restriction or calorie-rich diet. MC3R is also required for regulated excursion from set point, or rheostasis, during pregnancy. Further, we demonstrate a molecular mechanism: MC3R provides regulatory inputs to melanocortin signaling, acting presynaptically on agouti-related protein neurons to regulate γ-aminobutyric acid release onto anorexigenic MC4R neurons, exerting boundary control on the activity of MC4R neurons. Thus, the MC3R is a critical regulator of boundary controls on melanocortin signaling, providing rheostatic control on energy storage.
Haploinsufficiency of the melanocortin-4 receptor, the most common monogenetic obesity syndrome in humans, is associated with a reduction in autonomic tone, bradycardia, and incidence of obesity-associated hypertension. Thus, it has been assumed that melanocortin obesity syndrome may be protective with respect to obesity-associated cardiovascular disease. We show here that absence of the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) in mice causes dilated cardiomyopathy, characterized by reduced contractility and increased left ventricular diameter. This cardiomyopathy is independent of obesity as weight matched diet induced obese mice do not display systolic dysfunction. cardiomyopathy is characterized by ultrastructural changes in mitochondrial morphology and cardiomyocyte disorganization. Remarkably, testing of myocardial tissue from mice exhibited increased ADP stimulated respiratory capacity. However, this increase in respiration correlates with increased reactive oxygen species production - a canonical mediator of tissue damage. Together this study identifies MC4R deletion as a novel and potentially clinically important cause of heart failure.
Cetaceans, a group of mammals adapted to the aquatic environment that descended from terrestrial artiodactyls, exhibit tremendous interspecific differences in a number of phenotypes, including feeding behavior, such as filter feeding in the Mysticeti vs prey-hunting Odontoceti, and size, with the smallest cetacean, the vaquita, at 1.4 meters and the largest, the blue whale, reaching 33 meters. The Melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) regulates food intake, energy balance, and somatic growth in both mammals and teleosts. In this study, we examined allelic variants of the MC4R in cetaceans. We sequenced the MC4R from 20 cetaceans, and pharmacologically characterized 17 of these protein products. Results identified a single variation at amino acid 156 in the MC4R from representative species of major cetacean lineages uniquely associated with the toothed whales or Odontoceti (arginine at 156) and baleen whales or Mysticeti (glutamine at 156). The Q156 receptor variant found in the larger baleen whales was functionally less responsive to its endogenous anorexigenic ligand, α-MSH. Furthermore, the R156 receptor variant showed greater constitutive activity and a higher affinity for ligand. These data suggest that the MC4R may be one gene involved in the evolution of feeding ecology, energy balance, and body size in cetaceans.
Pharmacological activation of the hypothalamic glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) receptor (GLP-1R) promotes weight loss and improves glucose tolerance. This demonstrates that the hypothalamic GLP-1R is sufficient but does not show whether it is necessary for the effects of exogenous GLP-1R agonists (GLP-1RA) or endogenous GLP-1 on these parameters. To address this, we crossed mice harboring floxed Glp1r alleles to mice expressing Nkx2.1-Cre to knock down Glp1r expression throughout the hypothalamus (GLP-1RKD). We also generated mice lacking Glp1r expression specifically in two GLP-1RA-responsive hypothalamic feeding nuclei/cell types, the paraventricular nucleus (GLP-1RKD) and proopiomelanocortin neurons (GLP-1RKD). Chow-fed GLP-1RKD mice exhibited increased food intake and energy expenditure with no net effect on body weight. When fed a high-fat diet, these mice exhibited normal food intake but elevated energy expenditure, yielding reduced weight gain. None of these phenotypes were observed in GLP-1RKD and GLP-1RKD mice. The acute anorectic and glucose tolerance effects of peripherally dosed GLP-1RA exendin-4 and liraglutide were preserved in all mouse lines. Chronic liraglutide treatment reduced body weight in chow-fed GLP-1RKD mice, but this effect was attenuated with high-fat diet feeding. In sum, classic homeostatic control regions are sufficient but not individually necessary for the effects of GLP-1RA on nutrient homeostasis.
© 2017 by the American Diabetes Association.
The melanocortin-3 receptor (MC3R) is primarily expressed in the hypothalamus and plays an important role in the regulation of energy homeostasis. Recently, some studies demonstrated that MC3R also signals through mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), especially extracellular signal-regulated kinases 1 and 2 (ERK1/2). ERK1/2 signaling is known to alter gene expression, potentially contributing to the prolonged action of melanocortins on energy homeostasis regulation. In the present study, we performed detailed functional studies on 8 novel naturally occurring MC3R mutations recently reported, and the effects of endogenous MC3R agonist, α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), on ERK1/2 signaling on all 22 naturally occurring MC3R mutations reported to date. We found that mutants D158Y and L299V were potential pathogenic causes to obesity. Four residues, F82, D158, L249 and L299, played critical roles in different aspects of MC3R function. α-MSH exhibited balanced activity in Gs-cAMP and ERK1/2 signaling pathways in 15 of the 22 mutant MC3Rs. The other 7 mutant MC3Rs were biased to either one of the signaling pathways. In summary, we provided novel data about the structure-function relationship of MC3R, identifying residues important for receptor function. We also demonstrated that some mutations exhibited biased signaling, preferentially activating one intracellular signaling pathway, adding a new layer of complexity to MC3R pharmacology.
CONTEXT - Activation of the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) with the synthetic agonist RM-493 decreases body weight and increases energy expenditure (EE) in nonhuman primates. The effects of MC4R agonists on EE in humans have not been examined to date.
OBJECTIVE, DESIGN, AND SETTING - In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, we examined the effects of the MC4R agonist RM-493 on resting energy expenditure (REE) in obese subjects in an inpatient setting.
STUDY PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS - Twelve healthy adults (6 men and 6 women) with body mass index of 35.7 ± 2.9 kg/m(2) (mean ± SD) received RM-493 (1 mg/24 h) or placebo by continuous subcutaneous infusion over 72 hours, followed immediately by crossover to the alternate treatment. All subjects received a weight-maintenance diet (50% carbohydrate, 30% fat, and 20% protein) and performed 30 minutes of standardized exercise daily. Continuous EE was measured on the third treatment day in a room calorimeter, and REE in the fasting state was defined as the mean of 2 30-minute resting periods.
RESULTS - RM-493 increased REE vs placebo by 6.4% (95% confidence interval, 0.68-13.02%), on average by 111 kcal/24 h (95% confidence interval, 15-207 kcal, P = .03). Total daily EE trended higher, whereas the thermic effect of a test meal and exercise EE did not differ significantly. The 23-hour nonexercise respiratory quotient was lower during RM-493 treatment (0.833 ± 0.021 vs 0.848 ± 0.022, P = .02). No adverse effect on heart rate or blood pressure was observed.
CONCLUSIONS - Short-term administration of the MC4R agonist RM-493 increases REE and shifts substrate oxidation to fat in obese individuals.
The regulated release of anorexigenic α-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) and orexigenic Agouti-related protein (AgRP) from discrete hypothalamic arcuate neurons onto common target sites in the central nervous system has a fundamental role in the regulation of energy homeostasis. Both peptides bind with high affinity to the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R); existing data show that α-MSH is an agonist that couples the receptor to the Gαs signalling pathway, while AgRP binds competitively to block α-MSH binding and blocks the constitutive activity mediated by the ligand-mimetic amino-terminal domain of the receptor. Here we show that, in mice, regulation of firing activity of neurons from the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN) by α-MSH and AgRP can be mediated independently of Gαs signalling by ligand-induced coupling of MC4R to closure of inwardly rectifying potassium channel, Kir7.1. Furthermore, AgRP is a biased agonist that hyperpolarizes neurons by binding to MC4R and opening Kir7.1, independently of its inhibition of α-MSH binding. Consequently, Kir7.1 signalling appears to be central to melanocortin-mediated regulation of energy homeostasis within the PVN. Coupling of MC4R to Kir7.1 may explain unusual aspects of the control of energy homeostasis by melanocortin signalling, including the gene dosage effect of MC4R and the sustained effects of AgRP on food intake.