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J Mol Endocrinol. 2008 Dec;41(6):415-21. doi: 10.1677/JME-08-0102. Epub 2008 Oct 3.

Influence of chronic undernutrition and leptin on GOAT mRNA levels in rat stomach mucosa.

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Department of Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Santiago de Compostela, 15782, Santiago de Compostela, Spain CIBER Fisiopatología de la Obesidad y Nutrición (CIBERobn), Spain.


The most unique feature of ghrelin is the acyl-modification of a hydroxyl group of the Ser3 in the N-terminus. The Ser3 is commonly modified by n-octanoic acid in vertebrates being needed for its biological effects, at least in terms of feeding. Therefore, a critical question regarding the role of ghrelin was to characterize the mechanism involved in its acylation. The acyltransferase that catalyzes ghrelin octanoylation has been recently identified and named ghrelin O-acyltransferase (GOAT). The aim of this study was to clarify the physiological implications of GOAT in the regulation of energy balance, by assessing the effect of undernutrition, as well as fasting in adult male rats. We have determined GOAT mRNA expression levels by real time-PCR in the stomach mucosa. Our results show that chronic food restriction led to an increase in GOAT mRNA, particularly following long-term chronic malnutrition (21 days). Furthermore, following 48 h complete fasting, a situation with high-circulating ghrelin levels, we found similar mRNA expression of GOAT in fed and fasted rats; exogenous leptin administration markedly increase GOAT mRNA levels in the stomach mucosa of fasted rats. These findings suggest that increased GOAT mRNA levels may have a role in mediating the physiological responses to chronic undernutrition and could represent an adaptive response to prevent long-lasting alterations in energy balance and body weight homeostasis. Furthermore, our data also offer mechanistic insights into the reason why during fasting acylated ghrelin levels are not increased at a time when a marked increase in an orexigenic signal as important as acylated ghrelin will be expected.

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