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J R E Davis and A J L Clark

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A J L Clark and J R E Davis

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T V Novoselova, D Jackson, D C Campbell, A J L Clark, and L F Chan

The melanocortin receptor (MCR) family consists of five G-protein-coupled receptors (MC1R–MC5R) with diverse physiological roles. MC1R controls pigmentation, MC2R is a critical component of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, MC3R and MC4R have a vital role in energy homeostasis and MC5R is involved in exocrine function. The melanocortin receptor accessory protein (MRAP) and its paralogue MRAP2 are small single-pass transmembrane proteins that have been shown to regulate MCR expression and function. In the adrenal gland, MRAP is an essential accessory factor for the functional expression of the MC2R/ACTH receptor. The importance of MRAP in adrenal gland physiology is demonstrated by the clinical condition familial glucocorticoid deficiency, where inactivating MRAP mutations account for ∼20% of cases. MRAP is highly expressed in both the zona fasciculata and the undifferentiated zone. Expression in the undifferentiated zone suggests that MRAP could also be important in adrenal cell differentiation and/or maintenance. In contrast, the role of adrenal MRAP2, which is highly expressed in the foetal gland, is unclear. The expression of MRAPs outside the adrenal gland is suggestive of a wider physiological purpose, beyond MC2R-mediated adrenal steroidogenesis. In vitro, MRAPs have been shown to reduce surface expression and signalling of all the other MCRs (MC1,3,4,5R). MRAP2 is predominantly expressed in the hypothalamus, a site that also expresses a high level of MC3R and MC4R. This raises the intriguing possibility of a CNS role for the MRAPs.

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M Maamra, A Milward, H Zarkesh Esfahani, L P Abbott, L A Metherell, M O Savage, A J L Clark, and R J M Ross

Growth hormone insensitivity syndrome (GHIS) has been reported in a family homozygous for a point mutation in the GH receptor (GHR) that activates an intronic pseudoexon. The resultant GHR (GHR1–656) includes a 36 amino-acids insertion after residue 207, in the region known to be important for homodimerization of GHR. We have examined the functional consequences of such an insertion in mammalian cells transfected with the wild type (GHRwt) and mutated GHR (GHR1–656). Radio-ligand binding and flow cytometry analysis showed that GHR1–656 is poorly expressed at the cell surface compared with GHRwt. Total membrane binding and Western blot analysis showed no such difference in the level of total cellular GHR expressed for GHR1–656 vs GHRwt. Immunofluorescence showed GHR1–656 to have different cellular distribution to the wild type receptor (GHRwt), with the mutated GHR being mainly perinuclear and less vesicular than GHRwt. Western blot analysis showed GH-induced phosphorylation of Jak2 and Stat5 for both GHR1–656 and GHRwt, although reduced Stat5 activity was detected with GHR1–656, consistent with lower levels of expression of GHR1–656 than GHRwt at the cell surface. In conclusion, we report that GHIS, due to a 36 amino-acids insertion in the extracellular domain of GHR, is likely to be explained by a trafficking defect rather than by a signalling defect of GHR.

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T V Novoselova, R Larder, D Rimmington, C Lelliott, E H Wynn, R J Gorrigan, P H Tate, L Guasti, The Sanger Mouse Genetics Project, S O’Rahilly, A J L Clark, D W Logan, A P Coll, and L F Chan

Melanocortin receptor accessory protein 2 (MRAP2) is a transmembrane accessory protein predominantly expressed in the brain. Both global and brain-specific deletion of Mrap2 in mice results in severe obesity. Loss-of-function MRAP2 mutations have also been associated with obesity in humans. Although MRAP2 has been shown to interact with MC4R, a G protein-coupled receptor with an established role in energy homeostasis, appetite regulation and lipid metabolism, the mechanisms through which loss of MRAP2 causes obesity remains uncertain. In this study, we used two independently derived lines of Mrap2 deficient mice (Mrap2 tm1a/tm1a) to further study the role of Mrap2 in the regulation of energy balance and peripheral lipid metabolism. Mrap2 tm1a/tm1a mice have a significant increase in body weight, with increased fat and lean mass, but without detectable changes in food intake or energy expenditure. Transcriptomic analysis showed significantly decreased expression of Sim1, Trh, Oxt and Crh within the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus of Mrap2 tm1a/tm1a mice. Circulating levels of both high-density lipoprotein and low-density lipoprotein were significantly increased in Mrap2 deficient mice. Taken together, these data corroborate the role of MRAP2 in metabolic regulation and indicate that, at least in part, this may be due to defective central melanocortin signalling.