In mice and humans, binding of alpha-melanocyte--stimulating hormone to the melanocyte-stimulating--hormone receptor (MSHR), the protein product of melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene, leads to the synthesis of eumelanin. In the mouse, ligation of MSHR by agouti signaling protein (ASP) results in the production of pheomelanin. The role of ASP in humans is unclear. We sought to characterize the agouti signaling protein gene (ASIP) in a group of white subjects, to assess whether ASIP was a determinant of human pigmentation and whether this gene may be associated with increased melanoma risk. We found no evidence of coding-region sequence variation in ASIP, but detected a g.8818A-->G polymorphism in the 3' untranslated region. We genotyped 746 participants in a study of melanoma susceptibility for g.8818A-->G, by means of polymerase chain reaction and restriction fragment--length polymorphism analysis. Among the 147 healthy controls, the frequency of the G allele was.12. Carriage of the G allele was significantly associated with dark hair (odds ratio 1.8; 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.2--2.8) and brown eyes (odds ratio 1.9; 95% CI 1.3--2.8) after adjusting for age, gender, and disease status. ASIP g.8818A-->G was not associated independently with disease status. This is the first report of an association of ASIP with specific human pigmentation characteristics. It remains to be investigated whether the interaction of MC1R and ASIP can enhance prediction of human pigmentation and melanoma risk. (+info)
(18/158) Molecular and phenotypic analysis of 25 recessive, homozygous-viable alleles at the mouse agouti locus.
Agouti is a paracrine-acting, transient antagonist of melanocortin 1 receptors that specifies the subapical band of yellow on otherwise black hairs of the wild-type coat. To better understand both agouti structure/function and the germline damage caused by chemicals and radiation, an allelic series of 25 recessive, homozygous-viable agouti mutations generated in specific-locus tests were characterized. Visual inspection of fur, augmented by quantifiable chemical analysis of hair melanins, suggested four phenotypic categories (mild, moderate, umbrous-like, severe) for the 18 hypomorphs and a single category for the 7 amorphs (null). Molecular analysis indicated protein-coding alterations in 8 hypomorphs and 6 amorphs, with mild-moderate phenotypes correlating with signal peptide or basic domain mutations, and more devastating phenotypes resulting from C-terminal lesions. Ten hypomorphs and one null demonstrated wild-type coding potential, suggesting that they contain mutations elsewhere in the > or = 125-kb agouti locus that either reduce the level or alter the temporal/spatial distribution of agouti transcripts. Beyond the notable contributions to the field of mouse germ cell mutagenesis, analysis of this allelic series illustrates that complete abrogation of agouti function in vivo occurs most often through protein-coding lesions, whereas partial loss of function occurs slightly more frequently at the level of gene expression control. (+info)
(19/158) Evidence for translational regulation of the imprinted Snurf-Snrpn locus in mice.
In studies of genomic imprinting in the Prader-Willi/Angelman domain, an agouti coat color cassette was inserted into the downstream open reading frame (ORF) of the imprinted bicistronic Snurf-Snrpn locus in the mouse. The fusion gene was maternally silenced, as is Snurf-Snrpn, and produced a tan abdomen only when inherited paternally in otherwise-black mice. A screen for dominant epigenetic or genetic events was performed with ENU mutagenesis, using a strategy whereby variation in abdominal color was scored at weaning. One mouse with maternal origin of the fusion gene had a tan abdomen and had an imprinting defect resulting in loss of both maternal methylation and silencing of the fusion gene. One mouse with paternal origin of the fusion gene was completely yellow and was found to have an ATG-to-AAG mutation in the initiation codon of the upstream ORF encoding SNURF. Northern blotting, immunoblotting, and transfection studies indicated that the ATG-to-AAG mutation causes a 15-fold or more increase in translation of the downstream ORF in two fusion constructs, and it is likely that similar translational control affects the normal Snurf-Snrpn transcript as well. (+info)
(20/158) VGF is required for obesity induced by diet, gold thioglucose treatment, and agouti and is differentially regulated in pro-opiomelanocortin- and neuropeptide Y-containing arcuate neurons in response to fasting.
Targeted deletion of the gene encoding the neuronal and neuroendocrine secreted polypeptide VGF (nonacronymic) produces a lean, hypermetabolic mouse. Consistent with this phenotype, VGF mRNA levels are regulated in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus in response to fasting. To gain insight into the site(s) and mechanism(s) of action of VGF, we further characterized VGF expression in the hypothalamus. Double-label studies indicated that VGF and pro-opiomelanocortin were coexpressed in lateral arcuate neurons in the fed state, and that VGF expression was induced after fasting in medial arcuate neurons that synthesize neuropeptide Y (NPY). Like NPY, VGF mRNA induction in this region of the hypothalamus in fasted mice was inhibited by exogenous leptin. In leptin-deficient ob/ob and receptor-mutant db/db mice, VGF mRNA levels in the medial arcuate were elevated. To identify neural pathways that are functionally compromised by Vgf ablation, VGF mutant mice were crossed with obese A(y)/a (agouti) and ob/ob mice. VGF deficiency completely blocked the development of obesity in A(y)/a mice, whereas deletion of Vgf in ob/ob mice attenuated weight gain but had no impact on adiposity. Hypothalamic levels of NPY and agouti-related polypeptide mRNAs in both double-mutant lines were dramatically elevated 10- to 15-fold above those of wild-type mice. VGF-deficient mice were also found to resist diet- and gold thioglucose-induced obesity. These data and the susceptibility of VGF mutant mice to monosodium glutamate-induced obesity are consistent with a role for VGF in outflow pathways, downstream of hypothalamic and/or brainstem melanocortin 4 receptors, that project via the autonomic nervous system to peripheral metabolic tissues and regulate energy homeostasis. (+info)
(21/158) Mechanisms of dairy modulation of adiposity.
Dietary calcium plays a pivotal role in the regulation of energy metabolism, in that we have found high calcium diets to attenuate adipocyte lipid accretion and weight gain during periods of overconsumption of an energy-dense diet and to increase lipolysis and preserve thermogenesis during caloric restriction, thereby markedly accelerating weight loss. Our studies of the agouti gene in obesity and insulin resistance demonstrate a key role for intracellular Ca(2+) in regulating adipocyte lipid metabolism and triglyceride storage, with increased intracellular Ca(2+), resulting in stimulation of lipogenic gene expression and lipogenesis, and suppression of lipolysis, resulting in adipocyte lipid filling and increased adiposity. Moreover, we have recently demonstrated that the increased calcitriol produced in response to low calcium diets stimulates Ca(2+) influx in human adipocytes and thereby promotes adiposity. Accordingly, suppressing calcitriol levels by increasing dietary calcium is an attractive target for the prevention and management of obesity. In support of this concept, transgenic mice expressing the agouti gene specifically in adipocytes (a humanlike pattern) respond to low calcium diets with accelerated weight gain and fat accretion, whereas high calcium diets markedly inhibit lipogenesis, accelerate lipolysis, increase thermogenesis and suppress fat accretion and weight gain in animals maintained at identical caloric intakes. Further, low calcium diets impede body fat loss, whereas high calcium diets markedly accelerate fat loss in transgenic mice subjected to caloric restriction. Notably, dairy sources of calcium exert markedly greater effects in attenuating weight and fat gain and accelerating fat loss. This augmented effect of dairy vs. supplemental calcium is likely attributable to additional bioactive compounds in dairy that act synergistically with calcium to attenuate adiposity; among these are angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitory peptides, which limit angiotensin II production and thereby limit angiotensin II stimulation of adipocyte lipogenesis. These concepts are confirmed by both epidemiological and clinical data, which similarly demonstrate that dairy products exert a substantially greater effect on both fat loss and fat distribution compared to an equivalent amount of supplemental calcium. (+info)
(22/158) Exclusion of melanocortin-1 receptor (mc1r) and agouti as candidates for dominant black in dogs.
The domestic dog exhibits a variety of coat colors that encompass a wide range of variation among different breeds. Very little is known about the molecular biology of dog pigmentation; current understanding is based mostly on traditional breeding experiments, which in some cases have suggested genetic interactions that are different from those reported in other mammals. We have examined the molecular genetics of dominant black, a uniform coat color characteristic of black Labrador retrievers or Newfoundlands that has been proposed to be caused by either variation in the melanocortin-1 receptor gene (Mc1r) or by variation in the Agouti gene (A). We identified several coding polymorphisms within Mc1r and several simple sequence repeat polymorphisms closely linked to A, and examined their inheritance in a Labrador retriever x greyhound cross that segregates dominant black. No single Mc1r allele was found consistently in animals carrying dominant black, and neither Mc1r nor A cosegregated with dominant black. These results refine our understanding of mammalian coat color inheritance and suggest that dominant black coat color in dogs is caused by a gene not previously implicated in pigment type switching. (+info)
(23/158) Action site of the lethal Ay gene in the mouse embryo.
We investigated the lethal effect of Ay gene in embryos at the preimplantation stage in vitro. First, the development until the blastocyst stage and the division of individual cells from 8-cell stage embryos were examined. No difference in development was detected between embryos from the experimental cross (Ay/a x Ay/a) and those from the control cross (a/a x a/a). Therefore, it seems that the abnormality of the Ay/Ay embryo does not appear until blastocyst formation in vitro. We subsequently examined the hatching from zona pellucida of the blastocysts. The hatching ratio of the embryos from the experimental cross was significantly lower than that of the control crosses (Ay/a x a/a, a/a x a/a: p < 0.05). Our observation indicates that deficiency of the Ay/Ay embryo can be detected in vitro at hatching. In order to elucidate the mechanism of the gene action of the Ay, we attempted to rescue the lethal embryos from decreased hatching ratio in vitro. When dbcAMP at the concentration of 1 mM was added to the culture medium, the hatching ratio of blastocysts from the experimental cross increased until the level of those from the control crosses. Since this result indicates that the cAMP content in Ay homozygote seemed to be lower than those in a/a and Ay/a, the cAMP content in individual blastocyst was quantified. It is found that Ay homozygosity was associated with lower level of cAMP. When adenylate cyclase was activated by forskolin and cholera toxin, the hatching ratio was increased. These results seem to suggest that Ay homozygote embryos possess a defect in signal transduction system mediated by adenylate cyclase during hatching. (+info)
(24/158) Regulation of melanocortin 1 receptor expression at the mRNA and protein levels by its natural agonist and antagonist.
Five melanocortin receptors, which form a subfamily of G protein-coupled receptors, are expressed in mammalian tissues and regulate such diverse physiological processes as pigmentation, adrenal function, energy homeostasis, feeding efficiency, and sebaceous gland lipid production, as well as immune and sexual function. Pigmentation in mammals is stimulated by alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), which binds to the melanocortin 1 receptor (Mc1r) and induces an activation of melanogenic enzymes through stimulation of adenylate cyclase and protein kinase A. The antagonist agouti signal protein (ASP) interacts with the Mc1r and blocks its stimulation by MSH. We examined the influence of ASP or MSH on Mc1r gene expression, and we report that both ligands influence the Mc1r 5' promoter structure in distinct manners. Our study further shows that MSH regulates Mc1r function at both the mRNA and protein levels, whereas ASP acts only on its translation. (+info)