Energy homeostasis is a complex physiological function coordinated at multiple levels. The issue of genetic regulation of nutrition and metabolism is attracting increasing interest and new energy homeostasis-regulatory genes are continuously identified. Among these genes, vgf is gaining increasing interest following two observations: (1) VGF-/- mice have a lean and hypermetabolic phenotype; (2) the first VGF-derived peptide involved in energy homeostasis, named TLQP-21, has been identified. The aim of this review will be to discuss the role of the vgf gene and VGF derived peptides in metabolic and nutritional functions. In particular we will: (1) provide a brief overview on the central systems regulating energy homeostasis and nutrition particularly focusing on the melanocortin system; (2) introduce the structure and molecular characteristic of vgf; (3) describe the phenotype of VGF deficient mice; (4) present recent data on the metabolic role of VGF-derived peptides, particularly focusing on one peptide named TLQP-211.
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Acknowledgments Thanks are due to G. La Corte, V. Locatelli, A. E. Rigamonti, A. Torsello, E. Bresciani, I. Bulgarelli, R. Rizzi, F. R. D’Amato, C. Severini, G. Mignogna, A. Giorgi, M. E. Schininà, G. Elia, C. Brancia, G. -L. Ferri, R. Conti, B. Ciani, T. Pascucci and E. E. Muller, for experimental and theoretical support to the realization of the research described in the review. Supported by FIRB RBNE01JKLF_004 to Anna Moles; FIRB RBNE01JKLF_006, FIRB RBNE013XSJ_004 and IZS SA 002/02 to Roberta Possenti; and FIRS Neurobiotecnologie and Telethon E0830 to Andrea Levi.