Testing of human homologues of murine obesity genes as candidate regions in Finnish obese sib pairs.
The human homologues of recently discovered murine obesity genes provide relevant candidates to study the genetic component of obesity in humans. We analysed the human counterparts to murine obesity genes ob, db, agouti, tub, melanocortin 4-receptor (MC4-R) and mitochondrial uncoupling proteins 2 and 3 (UCP2 and UCP3), as well as two other chromosomal regions reported to be linked to obesity-related phenotypes in restricted populations. We found no significant evidence for linkage to any analysed loci in our total study material of 105 affected sib pairs collected from the genetically homogenous population of Finland. However, several markers on 14 cM chromosomal region flanking the MC4-R gene showed sharing of alleles identical-by-descent (IBD) more frequently than expected. A selected subset of non-diabetic obese sib pairs strengthened the P values down to 0.003 in this particular region. The smallest P value (P = 0.001) was obtained with a marker D18S487 in a subgroup containing only sib pairs with one lean and one obese parent. We therefore screened seven obese subjects included in our sib pair material for sequence changes in their MC4-R gene, but no mutations of apparent causal relationship were found. In conclusion, we could not find evidence for significant contribution of the chromosomal loci corresponding to the murine single gene obesity genes for human morbid obesity, but additional studies are still needed to clarify whether DNA alterations within or adjacent to the MC4-R gene play some role. (+info)
A system for rapid generation of coat color-tagged knockouts and defined chromosomal rearrangements in mice.
Gene targeting in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells can be used to generate single gene mutations or defined multi-megabase chromosomal rearrangements when applied with the Cre- loxP recombination system. While single knockouts are essential for uncovering functions of cloned genes, chromosomal rearrangements are great genetic tools for mapping, mutagenesis screens and functional genomics. The conventional approach to generate mice with targeted alterations of the genome requires extensive molecular cloning to build targeting vectors and DNA-based genotyping for stock maintenance. Here we describe the design and construction of a two-library system to facilitate high throughput gene targeting and chromo-somal engineering. The unique feature of these libraries is that once a clone is isolated, it is essentially ready to be used for insertional targeting in ES cells. The two libraries each bear a complementary set of genetic markers tailored so that the vector can be used for Cre- loxP -based chromosome engineering as well as single knockouts. By incorporating mouse coat color markers into the vectors, we illustrate a widely applicable method for stock maintenance of ES cell-derived mice with single gene knockouts or more extensive chromosomal rearrangements. (+info)
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)
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)
An agouti mutation lacking the basic domain induces yellow pigmentation but not obesity in transgenic mice.
Chronic antagonism of melanocortin receptors by the paracrine-acting agouti gene product induces both yellow fur and a maturity-onset obesity syndrome in mice that ubiquitously express wild-type agouti. Functional analysis of agouti mutations in transgenic mice indicate that the cysteine-rich C terminus, signal peptide, and glycosylation site are required for agouti activity in vivo. In contrast, no biological activity has been ascribed to the conserved basic domain. To examine the functional significance of the agouti basic domain, the entire 29-aa region was deleted from the agouti cDNA, and the resulting mutation (agoutiDeltabasic) was expressed in transgenic mice under the control of the beta-actin promoter (BAPaDeltabasic). Three independent lines of BAPaDeltabasic transgenic mice all developed some degree of yellow pigment in the fur, indicating that the agoutiDeltabasic protein was functional in vivo. However, none of the BAPaDeltabasic transgenic mice developed completely yellow fur, obesity, hyperinsulinemia, or hyperglycemia. High levels of agoutiDeltabasic expression in relevant tissues exceeded the level of agouti expression in obese viable yellow mice, suggesting that suboptimal activity or synthesis of the agoutiDeltabasic protein, rather than insufficient RNA synthesis, accounts for the phenotype of the BAPaDeltabasic transgenic mice. These findings implicate a functional role for the agouti basic domain in vivo, possibly influencing the biogenesis of secreted agouti protein or modulating protein-protein interactions that contribute to effective antagonism of melanocortin receptors. (+info)
Regulation of adiposity by dietary calcium.
Recent data from this laboratory demonstrate that increasing adipocyte intracellular Ca(2+) results in a coordinated stimulation of lipogenesis and inhibition of lipolysis. We have also noted that increasing dietary calcium of obese patients for 1 year resulted in a 4.9 kg loss of body fat (P<0.01). Accordingly, we tested the possibility that calcitrophic hormones may act on adipocytes to increase Ca(2+) and lipid metabolism by measuring the effects of 1, 25-(OH)(2)-D in primary cultures of human adipocytes, and found significant, sustained increases in intracellular Ca(2+) and a corresponding marked inhibition of lipolysis (EC(50) approximately 50 pM; P<0.001), suggesting that dietary calcium could reduce adipocyte mass by suppressing 1,25-(OH)(2)-D. To test this hypothesis, we placed transgenic mice expressing the agouti gene specifically in adipocytes on a low (0.4%) Ca/high fat/high sucrose diet either unsupplemented or with 25 or 50% of the protein replaced by non-fat dry milk or supplemented to 1.2% Ca with CaCO(3) for 6 wk. Weight gain and fat pad mass were reduced by 26-39% by the three high calcium diets (P<0.001). The high calcium diets exerted a corresponding 51% inhibition of adipocyte fatty acid synthase expression and activity (P<0.002) and stimulation of lipolysis by 3. 4- to 5.2-fold (P<0.015). This concept of calcium modulation of adiposity was further evaluated epidemiologically in the NHANES III data set. After controlling for energy intake, relative risk of being in the highest quartile of body fat was set to 1.00 for the lowest quartile of Ca intake and was reduced to 0.75, 0.40, and 0.16 for the second, third, and fourth quartiles, respectively, of calcium intake for women (n=380;P<0.0009); a similar inverse relationship was also noted in men (n=7114; P<0.0006). Thus, increasing dietary calcium suppresses adipocyte intracellular Ca(2+) and thereby modulates energy metabolism and attenuates obesity risk. (+info)
Relationship between human adipose tissue agouti and fatty acid synthase (FAS).
The human homologue of the murine obesity gene, agouti, is expressed in adipose tissue. We have shown that recombinant agouti protein regulates adipocyte lipogenesis and lipolysis coordinately and promotes lipid storage via a Ca(2+)-dependent mechanism in vitro, which may contribute to agouti-induced obesity. However, little is known about agouti's physiologic function in humans. We first studied the agouti content in human mature adipocytes vs. preadipocytes. The agouti content of human mature adipocytes was five times as abundant as in preadipocytes (19.18 +/- 2.46 vs. 4.07 +/- 0.51 pg/microg protein, P: < 0.005), suggesting that agouti is up-regulated during adipocyte differentiation. We next studied the relationship of agouti mRNA and protein to fatty acid synthase (FAS) mRNA and activity in adipose tissue obtained from nonobese and mildly obese patients (body mass index range, 21-31 kg/m(2)). Agouti protein was correlated with FAS activity (r = 0.782, P: < 0.005). Similarly, human adipose tissue agouti mRNA level was also correlated with FAS mRNA level (r = 0.846, P: < 0.001). These data suggest that agouti may be another adipocyte-produced factor that modulates adipocyte lipid metabolism via a paracrine/autocrine mechanism. (+info)
Common requirements for melanocortin-4 receptor selectivity of structurally unrelated melanocortin agonist and endogenous antagonist, Agouti protein.
The activity of melanocortin receptors (MCR) is regulated by melanocortin peptide agonists and by the endogenous antagonists, Agouti protein and AgRP (Agouti-related protein). To understand how the selectivity for these structurally unrelated agonists and antagonist is achieved, chimeric and mutants MC3R and MC4R were expressed in cell lines and pharmacologically analyzed. A region containing the third extracellular loop, EC3, of MC4R was essential for selective Agouti protein antagonism. In addition, this part of MC4R, when introduced in MC3R, conferred Agouti protein antagonism. Further mutational analysis of this region of MC4R demonstrated that Tyr(268) was required for the selective interaction with Agouti protein, because a profound loss of the ability of Agouti protein to inhibit (125)I-labeled [Nle(4),d-Phe(7)]alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) binding was observed by the single mutation of Tyr(268) to Ile. This same residue conferred selectivity for the MC4R selective agonist, [d-Tyr(4)]MT-II, whereas it inhibited interaction with the MC3R-selective agonist, [Nle(4)]Lys-gamma(2)-MSH. Conversely, mutation of Ile(265) in MC3 (the corresponding residue of Tyr(268)) to Tyr displayed a gain of affinity for [d-Tyr(4)]MT-II, but not for Agouti protein, and a loss of affinity for [Nle(4)]Lys-gamma(2)-MSH as compared with wild-type MC3R. This single amino acid mutation thus confers the selectivity of MC3R toward a pharmacological profile like that observed for MC4R agonists but not for the antagonist, Agouti protein. Thus, selectivity for structurally unrelated ligands with opposite activities is achieved in a similar manner for MC4R but not for MC3R. (+info)