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The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) is expressed in the brainstem and vagal afferent nerves and regulates a number of aspects of gastrointestinal function. Here we show that the receptor is also diffusely expressed in cells of the gastrointestinal system, from stomach to descending colon. Furthermore, MC4R is the second most highly enriched GPCR in peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) expressing enteroendocrine L cells. When vectorial ion transport is measured across mouse or human intestinal mucosa, administration of α-MSH induces a MC4R-specific PYY-dependent antisecretory response consistent with a role for the MC4R in paracrine inhibition of electrolyte secretion. Finally, MC4R-dependent acute PYY and GLP-1 release from L cells can be stimulated in vivo by intraperitoneal (i.p.) administration of melanocortin peptides to mice. This suggests physiological significance for MC4R in L cells and indicates a previously unrecognized peripheral role for the MC4R, complementing vagal and central receptor functions.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The melanocortin 3 receptor (MC3R) regulates several physiological functions, including feed efficiency, nutrient partitioning, fasting response, natriuresis, and immune reactions. Naturally occurring mutations in the MC3R gene have been shown to be associated with increased adiposity and lung diseases such as tuberculosis and cystic fibrosis. The DRY motif at the cytoplasmic end of transmembrane domain 3 (TM3) and the second intracellular loop 2 (ICL2) are known to be important for receptor function in several G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). To gain a better understanding of the functions of this domain in MC3R, we performed alanine-scanning mutagenesis on 18 residues. We showed that alanine mutation of 11 residues reduced the maximal binding and maximal cAMP production stimulated by agonists. Mutation of two residues did not change maximal binding but resulted in impaired signaling in the Gs-cAMP pathway. Mutation of five residues impaired signaling in the ERK1/2 pathway. We have also shown that alanine mutants of seven residues that were defective in the cAMP pathway were not defective in the ERK1/2 pathway, demonstrating biased signaling. In summary, we demonstrated that the cytoplasmic end of TM3 and the ICL2 were critical for MC3R function. We also reported for the first time biased signaling in MC3R.
© 2014 Society for Endocrinology.
Although mutations in the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) gene cause severe early-onset obesity, we still do not have effective approaches to correct the defects of these mutations. Several antagonists have been identified as pharmacoperones of the MC4R whereas no agonist of the MC4R has been reported. In the present study, we investigated the effect of a small molecule agonist of the MC4R, THIQ, on the cell surface expression and signaling of ten intracellularly retained MC4R mutants using different cell lines. We showed that THIQ increased the cell surface expression of three mutants (N62S, C84R, and C271Y) and two of them (N62S and C84R) had increased signaling in HEK293 cells. Interestingly, THIQ increased the signaling of two other mutants (P78L and P260Q) without increasing their cell surface expression in HEK293 cells. In neuronal cells, THIQ exhibited a more potent effect, correcting the cell surface expression and signaling of seven mutants (N62S, I69R, P78L, C84R, W174C, P260Q, and C271Y). Other mutants were not rescued by THIQ. We also showed that THIQ did not rescue MC4R mutants defective in ligand binding or signaling or one intracellularly retained mutant of the melanocortin-3 receptor. In summary, we demonstrated that a small molecule agonist acted as a pharmacoperone of the MC4R rescuing the cell surface expression and signaling of some intracellularly retained MC4R mutants.
The melanocortin-3 receptor (MC3R) and MC4R are known to play critical roles in energy homeostasis. However, the physiological functions of the MC3R remain poorly understood. Earlier reports indicated that the ventral tegmental area (VTA) is one of the highest sites of MC3R expression, and we sought to determine the function of the receptor in this brain region. A MC3R-green-fluorescent protein transgenic mouse and a MC3R knockout mouse strain were used to characterize the neurochemical identity of the MC3R neurons in the VTA and to determine the effects of global MC3R deletion on VTA dopamine (DA) homeostasis. We demonstrate that the MC3R, but not MC4R, is expressed in up to a third of dopaminergic neurons of the VTA. Global deletion of the MC3R increases total dopamine by 42% in the VTA and decreases sucrose intake and preference in female but not male mice. Ovariectomy restores dopamine levels to normal, but aberrant decreased VTA dopamine levels are also observed in prepubertal female mice. Because arcuate Agouti-related peptide/neuropeptide Y neurons are known to innervate and regulate VTA signaling, the MC3R in dopaminergic neurons provides a specific input for communication of nutritional state within the mesolimbic dopamine system. Data provided here suggest that this input may be highly sexually dimorphic, functioning as a specific circuit regulating effects of estrogen on VTA dopamine levels and on sucrose preference. Overall, this data support a sexually dimorphic function of MC3R in regulation of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system and reward.
BACKGROUND - In rodents, hypothalamic brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) expression appears to be regulated by melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) activity. The impact of MC4R genetic variation on circulating BDNF in humans is unknown.
OBJECTIVE - The objective of this study is to compare BDNF concentrations of subjects with loss-of-function (LOF) and gain-of-function (GOF) MC4R variants with those of controls with common sequence MC4R.
METHODS - Circulating BDNF was measured in two cohorts with known MC4R sequence: 148 subjects of Pima Indian heritage ((mean±s.d.): age, 15.7±6.5 years; body mass index z-scores (BMI-Z), 1.63±1.03) and 69 subjects of Hispanic heritage (10.8±3.6 years; BMI-Z, 1.57±1.07). MC4R variants were characterized in vitro by cell surface expression, receptor binding and cyclic AMP response after agonist administration. BDNF single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs12291186, rs6265 and rs7124442 were also genotyped.
RESULTS - In the Pima cohort, no significant differences in serum BDNF was observed for 43 LOF subjects versus 65 LOF-matched controls (age, sex and BMI matched; P=0.29) or 20 GOF subjects versus 20 GOF-matched controls (P=0.40). Serum BDNF was significantly associated with genotype for BDNF rs12291186 (P=0.006) and rs6265 (P=0.009), but not rs7124442 (P=0.99); BDNF SNPs did not interact with MC4R status to predict serum BDNF. In the Hispanic cohort, plasma BDNF was not significantly different among 21 LOF subjects, 20 GOF subjects and 28 controls (P=0.79); plasma BDNF was not predicted by BDNF genotype or BDNF-x-MC4R genotype interaction.
CONCLUSIONS - Circulating BDNF concentrations were not significantly associated with MC4R functional status, suggesting that peripheral BDNF does not directly reflect hypothalamic BDNF secretion and/or that MC4R signaling is not a significant regulator of the bulk of BDNF expression in humans.
Energy and glucose homeostasis are regulated by central serotonin 2C receptors. These receptors are attractive pharmacological targets for the treatment of obesity; however, the identity of the serotonin 2C receptor-expressing neurons that mediate the effects of serotonin and serotonin 2C receptor agonists on energy and glucose homeostasis are unknown. Here, we show that mice lacking serotonin 2C receptors (Htr2c) specifically in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons had normal body weight but developed glucoregulatory defects including hyperinsulinemia, hyperglucagonemia, hyperglycemia, and insulin resistance. Moreover, these mice did not show anorectic responses to serotonergic agents that suppress appetite and developed hyperphagia and obesity when they were fed a high-fat/high-sugar diet. A requirement of serotonin 2C receptors in POMC neurons for the maintenance of normal energy and glucose homeostasis was further demonstrated when Htr2c loss was induced in POMC neurons in adult mice using a tamoxifen-inducible POMC-cre system. These data demonstrate that serotonin 2C receptor-expressing POMC neurons are required to control energy and glucose homeostasis and implicate POMC neurons as the target for the effect of serotonin 2C receptor agonists on weight-loss induction and improved glycemic control.
Insulin-independent glucose disposal (referred to as glucose effectiveness [GE]) is crucial for glucose homeostasis and, until recently, was thought to be invariable. However, GE is reduced in type 2 diabetes and markedly decreased in leptin-deficient ob/ob mice. Strategies aimed at increasing GE should therefore be capable of improving glucose tolerance in these animals. The gut-derived hormone FGF19 has previously been shown to exert potent antidiabetic effects in ob/ob mice. In ob/ob mice, we found that systemic FGF19 administration improved glucose tolerance through its action in the brain and that a single, low-dose i.c.v. injection of FGF19 dramatically improved glucose intolerance within 2 hours. Minimal model analysis of glucose and insulin data obtained during a frequently sampled i.v. glucose tolerance test showed that the antidiabetic effect of i.c.v. FGF19 was solely due to increased GE and not to changes of either insulin secretion or insulin sensitivity. The mechanism underlying this effect appears to involve increased metabolism of glucose to lactate. Together, these findings implicate the brain in the antidiabetic action of systemic FGF19 and establish the brain’s capacity to rapidly, potently, and selectively increase insulin-independent glucose disposal.
The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) is essential for control of energy homeostasis in vertebrates. MC4R interacts with melanocortin receptor accessory protein 2 (MRAP2) in vitro, but its functions in vivo are unknown. We found that MRAP2a, a larval form, stimulates growth of zebrafish by specifically blocking the action of MC4R. In cell culture, this protein binds MC4R and reduces the ability of the receptor to bind its ligand, α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH). A paralog, MRAP2b, expressed later in development, also binds MC4R but increases ligand sensitivity. Thus, MRAP2 proteins allow for developmental control of MC4R activity, with MRAP2a blocking its function and stimulating growth during larval development, whereas MRAP2b enhances responsiveness to α-MSH once the zebrafish begins feeding, thus increasing the capacity for regulated feeding and growth.
Haploinsufficiency of the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) results in melanocortin obesity syndrome, the most common monogenic cause of severe early onset obesity in humans. The syndrome, which produces measurable hyperphagia, has focused attention on the role of MC4R in feeding behavior and macronutrient intake. Studies show that inhibition of MC4R signaling can acutely increase the consumption of high-fat foods. The current study examines the chronic feeding preferences of mice with deletion of one or both alleles of the MC4R to model the human syndrome. Using two-choice diet paradigms with high-fat or high-carbohydrate foods alongside normal chow, we show, paradoxically, that deletion of one allele has no effect, whereas deletion of both alleles of the MC4R actually decreases preference for palatable high-fat and high-sucrose foods, compared with wild-type mice. Nonetheless, we observed hyperphagic behavior from increased consumption of the low-fat standard chow when either heterozygous or homozygous mutant animals were presented with dietary variety. Thus, decreased MC4R signaling in melanocortin obesity syndrome consistently yields hyperphagia irrespective of the foods provided, but the hyperphagia appears driven by variety and/or novelty, rather than by a preference for high-fat or high-carbohydrate foodstuffs.