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Diabetologia. 1997 Aug;40(8):976-9.

Molecular screening of the human melanocortin-4 receptor gene: identification of a missense variant showing no association with obesity, plasma glucose, or insulin.

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  • 1MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.


Disruption of the melanocortin-4 (MC-4) receptor gene in mice results in maturity-onset obesity, hyperinsulinaemia and hyperglycaemia. These phenotypes are characteristic of human obesity that frequently accompanies non-insulin-dependent diabetes. It is therefore possible that human MC-4 receptor gene mutations contribute to human obesity. To test this possibility, we examined by DNA sequencing the entire coding region of the human MC-4 receptor gene in 40 morbidly obese (BMI > 35 kg/m2) white British males and examined the 5'- and 3'-flanking regions in 20 out of these obese subjects. We also sequenced all these regions in 10 lean (BMI < 18 kg/m2) white British males for a reference. We identified a single nucleotide substitution that replaces valine with isoleucine at codon 103, in two obese subjects in the heterozygous state. No other nucleotide alterations were found. The prevalence of this missense variant was studied in 322 white British males (190 with BMI > 28 kg/m2 and 132 with BMI < 22 kg/m2) selected from a population-based epidemiological survey. In these subjects, no homozygotes for the isoleucine allele were found. The frequency of heterozygotes was similar (4.2 vs 4.5%) in the two groups and there was no significant difference in BMI, total skinfold thickness, plasma insulin and glucose levels between heterozygotes and codon-103 valine homozygotes in either group. These results suggest that coding sequence mutations in the MC-4 receptor gene are unlikely to be a major cause of human obesity, at least in white British males.

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