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Melanocortin 4 receptor is a transcriptional target of nescient helix-loop-helix-2

Wankhade, Umesh D., Good, Deborah J.
Molecular and cellular endocrinology 2011 v.341 no.1-2 pp. 39-47
G-protein coupled receptors, chromatin, electrophoresis, gels, gene expression, genes, humans, hypothalamus, messenger RNA, mice, mutation, obesity, peptides, precipitin tests, signal transduction, small interfering RNA, transcription (genetics), transcription factors, transcriptional activation, weight control
Melanocortin 4 receptor (Mc4r/MC4R) is a G-Protein coupled receptor that is expressed in the hypothalamus and implicated in body weight control. Mutations in MC4R are the most frequent cause of monogenetic forms of human obesity. Despite its importance, the MC4R signaling pathways and transcriptional regulation underlying the melanocortin pathway are far from being fully understood. The transcription factor nescient helix-loop-helix 2 (Nhlh2) influences the melanocortin pathway through transcriptional regulation of prohormone convertase I, which influences the production of melanocortin peptides. In the present study, Nhlh2’s role as a transcriptional regulator of Mc4r has been demonstrated. Nhlh2 knockout mice have reduced hypothalamic expression of Mc4r mRNA, suggesting that it could be a direct or indirect transcriptional regulator of the Mc4r promoter. To demonstrate direct transcriptional regulation, chromatin immunoprecipitation and electrophoretic gel shift assays show that Nhlh2 binds to the E-Boxes located at −551, −366 and +54 on the Mc4r promoter. Leptin-induced transactivation of the Mc4r promoter is significantly higher in the presence of exogenously added Nhlh2. siRNA knockdown of Nhlh2 leads to significantly reduced endogenous Mc4r mRNA expression levels in N29/2 cell line. Transactivation using promoters with mutations in each of the E-Boxes results in significantly reduced transactivation efficiency compared to the WT Mc4r promoter, suggesting that Nhlh2 regulates Mc4r transcription through these sites. Findings from these studies, combined with previous work implicating Nhlh2 as a transcriptional regulator of both the Mc4r gene and the melanocortin pathway, suggest that Nhlh2’s transcriptional activity directly influences the human and rodent body weight control pathways.