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J Clin Invest. 2009 Aug;119(8):2291-303. doi: 10.1172/JCI37209. Epub 2009 Jul 20.

Prolylcarboxypeptidase regulates food intake by inactivating alpha-MSH in rodents.

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1
Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.

Abstract

The anorexigenic neuromodulator alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH; referred to here as alpha-MSH1-13) undergoes extensive posttranslational processing, and its in vivo activity is short lived due to rapid inactivation. The enzymatic control of alpha-MSH1-13 maturation and inactivation is incompletely understood. Here we have provided insight into alpha-MSH1-13 inactivation through the generation and analysis of a subcongenic mouse strain with reduced body fat compared with controls. Using positional cloning, we identified a maximum of 6 coding genes, including that encoding prolylcarboxypeptidase (PRCP), in the donor region. Real-time PCR revealed a marked genotype effect on Prcp mRNA expression in brain tissue. Biochemical studies using recombinant PRCP demonstrated that PRCP removes the C-terminal amino acid of alpha-MSH1-13, producing alpha-MSH1-12, which is not neuroactive. We found that Prcp was expressed in the hypothalamus in neuronal populations that send efferents to areas where alpha-MSH1-13 is released from axon terminals. The inhibition of PRCP activity by small molecule protease inhibitors administered peripherally or centrally decreased food intake in both wild-type and obese mice. Furthermore, Prcp-null mice had elevated levels of alpha-MSH1-13 in the hypothalamus and were leaner and shorter than the wild-type controls on a regular chow diet; they were also resistant to high-fat diet-induced obesity. Our results suggest that PRCP is an important component of melanocortin signaling and weight maintenance via control of active alpha-MSH1-13 levels.

PMID:
19620781
PMCID:
PMC2719925
DOI:
10.1172/JCI37209
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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