Molecular mechanism of the constitutive activation of the L250Q human melanocortin-4 receptor polymorphism

Bettina Proneth, Zhimin Xiang, Irina D. Pogozheva, Sally A. Litherland, Oleg S. Gorbatyuk, Amanda M. Shaw, William J. Millard, Henry I. Mosberg, Carrie Haskell-Luevano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The Melanocortin-4 Receptor is a G-protein coupled receptor that has been physiologically linked to participate in the regulation of energy homeostasis. The Melanocortin-4 Receptor is stimulated by endogenous melanocortin agonists derived from the pro-opiomelanocortin gene transcript and antagonized by the endogenous antagonist agouti-related protein. Central administration of melanocortin agonists has been demonstrated to decrease food intake and conversely, treatment with antagonists resulted in increased food intake. Deletion of the Melanocortin-4 Receptor gene from the mouse genome results in an obese and hyperphagic phenotype. Polymorphisms of the human Melanocortin-4-Receptor have been found in severely obese individuals, suggesting that Melanocortin-4 Receptor malfunction might be involved in human obesity and obesity-associated diabetes. Herein, we have performed experiments to understand the molecular mechanisms associated with the L250Q human Melanocortin-4-Receptor polymorphism discovered in an extremely obese woman. This L250Q human Melanocortin-4-Receptor has been pharmacologically characterized to result in a constitutively active receptor. The fact that a constitutively active human Melanocortin-4-Receptor mutation was found in an obese person is a physiologic contradiction, as chronic activation of the human Melanocortin-4-Receptor and subsequently high cyclic adenosine monophosphate levels should theoretically result in a normal or lean phenotype. In this study, we demonstrated that agouti-related protein acts as an inverse agonist at this constitutively active receptor, and we propose a mechanism by which agouti-related protein might contribute to the obese phenotype in the L250Q patient. In addition, using receptor mutagenesis, pharmacology, and computer modeling approaches, we investigated the molecular mechanism by which modification of the L250 residue results in constitutive activation of the human Melanocortin-4-Receptor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-229
Number of pages15
JournalChemical Biology and Drug Design
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2006

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • AGRP
  • Agouti-related protein
  • Constitutive activation
  • G-protein coupled receptor
  • Melanotropin
  • Obesity
  • POMC

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