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J Cell Mol Med. 2009 Sep;13(9B):3268-82. doi: 10.1111/j.1582-4934.2009.00726.x. Epub 2009 Feb 27.

Functional characterization and pharmacological rescue of melanocortin-4 receptor mutations identified from obese patients.

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Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Pharmacology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849-5519, USA.


As the most common monogenic form of human obesity, about 130 naturally occurring melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) gene mutations have been identified. In this study, we reported detailed functional characterization of 10 novel human MC4R (hMC4R) mutants including R7C, C84R, S127L, S136F, W174C, A219V, P230L, F261S, I317V and L325F. Flow cytometry experiments showed that six mutants, including R7C, C84R, S127L, W174C, P230L and F261S, have decreased cell surface expression. The other four mutants are expressed at similar levels as the wild-type hMC4R. Binding assays showed that the mutants have similar binding affinities for the agonist and endogenous antagonist agouti-related protein. Signalling assays showed that S136F is defective in signalling. Multiple mutagenesis showed that S136 of hMC4R is required for the normal function of the receptor. To identify potential therapeutic approaches for patients with intracellularly retained MC4R mutants, we tested the effect of an MC4R inverse agonist, ML00253764, on C84R and W174C. We showed that ML00253764 could function as a pharmacological chaperone rescuing the mutant MC4Rs to the cell surface. The rescued mutants are functional with increased cAMP production in response to agonist stimulation. In conclusion, of 10 mutants we studied, 6 had decreased cell surface expression. Pharmacological chaperone is a potential approach for treating obesity caused by MC4R mutations that result in intracellular retention.

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