(1/265) Contribution of melanocortin receptor exoloops to Agouti-related protein binding.

Agouti-related protein (AGRP) is an endogenous antagonist of melanocortin action that functions in the hypothalamic control of feeding behavior. Although previous studies have shown that AGRP binds three of the five known subtypes of melanocortin receptor, the receptor domains participating in binding and the molecular interactions involved are presently unknown. The present studies were designed to examine the contribution of extracytoplasmic domains of the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) to AGRP binding by making chimerical receptor constructs of the human melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R; a receptor that is not inhibited by AGRP) and the human MC4R (a receptor that is potently inhibited by AGRP). Substitutions of the extracytoplasmic NH2 terminus and the first extracytoplasmic loop (exoloop) of the MC4R with homologous domains of the MC1R had no effect on AGRP (87-132) binding affinity or inhibitory activity (the ability to inhibit melanocortin-stimulated cAMP generation). In contrast, cassette substitutions of exoloops 2 and 3 of the MC4R with the homologous exoloops of the MC1R resulted in a substantial loss of AGRP binding affinity and inhibitory activity. Conversely, the exchange of exoloops 2 and 3 of the MC1R with the homologous exoloops of the MC4R was found to confer AGRP binding and inhibitory activity to the basic structure of the MC1R. Importantly, these substitutions did not affect the ability of the alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone analogue [Nle4,D-Phe7] melanocyte stimulating hormone to bind or activate the chimeric receptors. These data indicate that exoloops 2 and 3 of the melanocortin receptors are important for AGRP binding.  (+info)

(2/265) Down-regulation of melanocortin receptor signaling mediated by the amino terminus of Agouti protein in Xenopus melanophores.

Agouti protein and Agouti-related protein (Agrp) regulate pigmentation and body weight, respectively, by antagonizing melanocortin receptor signaling. A carboxyl-terminal fragment of Agouti protein, Ser73-Cys131, is sufficient for melanocortin receptor antagonism, but Western blot analysis of skin extracts reveals that the electrophoretic mobility of native Agouti protein corresponds to the mature full-length form, His23-Cys131. To investigate the potential role of the amino-terminal residues, we compared the function of full-length and carboxyl-terminal fragments of Agrp and Agouti protein in a sensitive bioassay based on pigment dispersion in Xenopus melanophores. We find that carboxyl-terminal Agouti protein, and all forms of Agrp tested, act solely by competitive antagonism of melanocortin action. However, full-length Agouti protein acts by an additional mechanism that is time- and temperature-dependent, depresses maximal levels of pigment dispersion, and is therefore likely to be mediated by receptor down-regulation. Apparent down-regulation is not observed for a mixture of amino-terminal and carboxyl-terminal fragments. We propose that the phenotypic effects of Agouti in vivo represent a bipartite mechanism: competitive antagonism of agonist binding by the carboxyl-terminal portion of Agouti protein and down-regulation of melanocortin receptor signaling by an unknown mechanism that requires residues in the amino terminus of the Agouti protein.  (+info)

(3/265) NMR structure of a minimized human agouti related protein prepared by total chemical synthesis.

The structure of the chemically synthesized C-terminal region of the human agouti related protein (AGRP) was determined by 2D 1H NMR. Referred to as minimized agouti related protein, MARP is a 46 residue polypeptide containing 10 Cys residues involved in five disulfide bonds that retains the biological activity of full length AGRP. AGRP is a mammalian signaling molecule, involved in weight homeostasis, that causes adult onset obesity when overexpressed in mice. AGRP was originally identified by homology to the agouti protein, another potent signaling molecule involved in obesity disorders in mice. While AGRP's exact mechanism of action is unknown, it has been identified as a competitive antagonist of melanocortin receptors 3 and 4 (MC3r, MC4r), and MC4r in particular is implicated in the hypothalamic control of feeding behavior. Full length agouti and AGRP are only 25% homologous, however, their active C-terminal regions are approximately 40% homologous, with nine out of the 10 Cys residues spatially conserved. Until now, 3D structures have not been available for either agouti, AGRP or their C-terminal regions. The NMR structure of MARP reported here can be characterized as three major loops, with four of the five disulfide bridges at the base of the structure. Though its fold is well defined, no canonical secondary structure is identified. While previously reported structural models of the C-terminal region of AGRP were attempted based on Cys homology between AGRP and certain toxin proteins, we find that Cys spacing is not sufficient to correctly determine the 3D fold of the molecule.  (+info)

(4/265) Anatomy of an endogenous antagonist: relationship between Agouti-related protein and proopiomelanocortin in brain.

Agouti-related protein (AGRP) is a recently discovered orexigenic neuropeptide that inhibits the binding and action of alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone derived from proopiomelanocortin (POMC) at the melanocortin 3 receptor (MC3R) and melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) and has been proposed to function primarily as an endogenous melanocortin antagonist. To better understand the interplay between the AGRP and melanocortin signaling systems, we compared their nerve fiber distributions with each other by immunohistochemistry and their perikarya distribution with MC3R and MC4R by double in situ hybridization. Although deriving from distinct cell groups, AGRP and melanocortin terminals project to identical brain areas. Both AGRP and melanocortin neurons selectively express the MC3R, which provides a neuroanatomical basis for a dual-input circuit with biological amplification and feedback inhibition. These studies highlight a broader complexity in POMC-mediated behavior in the brain.  (+info)

(5/265) Involvement of agouti-related protein, an endogenous antagonist of hypothalamic melanocortin receptor, in leptin action.

To understand the role of agouti-related protein (AGRP), an endogenous antagonist of hypothalamic melanocortin receptor, in leptin action, we produced a full-length recombinant AGRP and examined its effect on the satiety effect of leptin. We also studied leptin's regulation of hypothalamic AGRP mRNA expression. A single intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) injection of AGRP significantly increased cumulative food intake and body weight in a dose-dependent manner in rats. The leptin-induced inhibition of food intake and body weight was reversed by co-injection of AGRP in a dose-dependent manner. Hypothalamic AGRP mRNA expression was upregulated in leptin-deficient ob/ob mice and leptin receptor-deficient db/db mice and downregulated in lethal yellow agouti mice (KKAy mice) with hyperleptinemia. A single i.c.v. injection of leptin reversed the increased AGRP mRNA levels in ob/ob mice but not in db/db mice. In control mice and KKAy mice, AGRP mRNA expression was upregulated during fasting, when plasma leptin concentrations were decreased. No significant increase in AGRP mRNA expression was noted during fasting in control mice and KKAy mice treated with leptin. This study provides the first direct evidence that AGRP is a negative regulator of leptin action, and leptin downregulates hypothalamic AGRP production. Because leptin is shown to increase hypothalamic alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH) production, our data suggest that its action via the hypothalamic melanocortin system is determined by the balance between the levels of its agonist and antagonist, alpha-MSH and AGRP.  (+info)

(6/265) Integration of NPY, AGRP, and melanocortin signals in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus: evidence of a cellular basis for the adipostat.

Energy stores are held relatively constant in many mammals. The circuitry necessary for maintaining energy homeostasis should (1) sense the amount of energy stored in adipose tissue, (2) sense and integrate the multiple opposing signals regarding nutritional state, and (3) provide output regulating energy intake and expenditure to maintain energy homeostasis. We demonstrate that individual neurons within the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVH) are capable of detection and integration of orexigenic (neuropeptide Y [NPY]) and anorexigenic (melanocortin) signals, that NPY and melanocortins are functional antagonists of each other within the PVH in the regulation of feeding behavior, and that melanocortin administration within the PVH regulates both feeding behavior and energy expenditure. These data provide a cellular basis for the adipostat within neurons in the PVH that appear to be jointly regulated by NPY- and melanocortin-responsive neurons.  (+info)

(7/265) The central melanocortin system affects the hypothalamo-pituitary thyroid axis and may mediate the effect of leptin.

Prolonged fasting is associated with a downregulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary thyroid (H-P-T) axis, which is reversed by administration of leptin. The hypothalamic melanocortin system regulates energy balance and mediates a number of central effects of leptin. In this study, we show that hypothalamic melanocortins can stimulate the thyroid axis and that their antagonist, agouti-related peptide (Agrp), can inhibit it. Intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration of Agrp (83-132) decreased plasma thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in fed male rats. Intraparaventricular nuclear administration of Agrp (83-132) produced a long-lasting suppression of plasma TSH, and plasma T4. ICV administration of a stable alpha-MSH analogue increased plasma TSH in 24-hour-fasted rats. In vitro, alpha-MSH increased thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) release from hypothalamic explants. Agrp (83-132) alone caused no change in TRH release but antagonized the effect of alpha-MSH on TRH release. Leptin increased TRH release from hypothalami harvested from 48-hour-fasted rats. Agrp (83-132) blocked this effect. These data suggest a role for the hypothalamic melanocortin system in the fasting-induced suppression of the H-P-T axis.  (+info)

(8/265) Widespread expression of Agouti-related protein (AGRP) in the chicken: a possible involvement of AGRP in regulating peripheral melanocortin systems in the chicken.

Agouti-related protein (AGRP) is a naturally occurring antagonist of melanocortin action. It is expressed mainly in the arcuate nucleus where it plays an important role in the hypothalamic control of feeding and energy homeostasis by antagonism of central melanocortin 4 receptors in mammals. Besides in the brain, the melanocortin 4 receptor is expressed in numerous peripheral tissues in the chicken. To examine whether or not the peripheral melanocortin 4 receptor signaling could be regulated by AGRP, we cloned and localized the expression of the AGRP gene in the chicken. The chicken AGRP gene was found to encode a 154 or 165 amino acid protein, depending on the usage of two alternative translation initiation sites. The coding sequence consisted of three exons, like that of mammalian species. The C-terminal cysteine-rich region of the predicted AGRP displayed high levels of identity to mammalian counterparts (78-84%) and all 10 cysteine residues conferring functional conformation of AGRP were conserved; however, other regions showed apparently no homology, suggesting that biological activities of AGRP are located in its C-terminal region. RT-PCR analysis detected the AGRP mRNA in all tissues examined: the brain, adrenal gland, heart, liver, spleen, gonads, kidney, uropygial gland, skeletal muscle and adipose tissues. Interestingly, the skin also expressed the AGRP mRNA, where Agouti, another melanocortin receptor antagonist regulating hair pigmentation, is expressed in rodents. Most of those AGRP-expressing tissues have been demonstrated to express melanocortin 4 receptors and/or other subtypes of melanocortin receptor whose mammalian counterparts can bind AGRP. These results imply the possibility that some peripheral melanocortin systems could be regulated by the functional interaction between melanocortins and AGRP at melanocortin receptors in the chicken.  (+info)