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Nat Neurosci. 2012 Oct;15(10):1391-8. doi: 10.1038/nn.3207. Epub 2012 Sep 2.

Rho-kinase regulates energy balance by targeting hypothalamic leptin receptor signaling.

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Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Leptin regulates energy balance. However, knowledge of the critical intracellular transducers of leptin signaling remains incomplete. We found that Rho-kinase 1 (ROCK1) regulates leptin action on body weight homeostasis by activating JAK2, an initial trigger of leptin receptor signaling. Leptin promoted the physical interaction of JAK2 and ROCK1, thereby increasing phosphorylation of JAK2 and downstream activation of Stat3 and FOXO1. Mice lacking ROCK1 in either pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) or agouti-related protein neurons, mediators of leptin action, displayed obesity and impaired leptin sensitivity. In addition, deletion of ROCK1 in the arcuate nucleus markedly enhanced food intake, resulting in severe obesity. Notably, ROCK1 was a specific mediator of leptin, but not insulin, regulation of POMC neuronal activity. Our data identify ROCK1 as a key regulator of leptin action on energy homeostasis.

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