Leptin regulates energy balance and glucose homeostasis. Shortly after leptin was identified, it was established that obesity is commonly associated with leptin resistance, though the molecular mechanisms remain to be identified. To explore potential mechanisms of leptin resistance, we employed organotypic brain slices to identify candidate signaling pathways that negatively regulate leptin sensitivity. We found that elevation of adenosine 3′, 5′-monophosphate (cAMP) levels impairs multiple signaling cascades activated by leptin within the hypothalamus. Notably, this effect is independent of protein kinase A activation. In contrast, activation of Epac, a cAMP-regulated guanine nucleotide exchange factor for the small G protein Rap1, was sufficient to impair leptin signaling with concomitant induction of SOCS-3 expression. Epac activation also blunted leptin-induced depolarization of hypothalamic POMC neurons. Finally, central infusion of an Epac activator blunted the anorexigenic actions of leptin. Thus, activation of hypothalamic cAMP-Epac pathway is sufficient to induce multiple indices of leptin resistance.
Studies have suggested that manipulations of the central melanocortin circuitry by pharmacological agents produce robust effects on the regulation of body weight and glucose homeostasis. In this review, we discuss recent findings from genetic mouse models that have further established the physiological relevance of this circuitry in the context of glucose and energy balance. In addition, we will discuss distinct neuronal populations that respond to central melanocortins to regulate food intake, energy expenditure, insulin sensitivity, and insulin secretion, respectively. Finally, multiple hormonal and neural cues (e.g., leptin, estrogen, and serotonin) that use the melanocortin systems to regulate energy and glucose homeostasis will be reviewed. These findings suggest that targeting the specific branches of melanocortin circuits may be potential avenues to combat the current obesity and diabetes epidemics.
melanocortins; leptin; estrogen; serotonin; body weight
Feeding on high-calorie (HC) diets induces serious metabolic imbalances, including obesity. Understanding the mechanisms against excessive body weight gain is critical for developing effective anti-obesity strategies. Here, we show that lack of nicotinamide adenosine dinucleotide (NAD+)-dependent deacetylase SIRT1 in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons causes hypersensitivity to diet-induced obesity due to reduced energy expenditure. The ability of leptin to properly engage the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling in POMC neurons and elicit remodeling of perigonadal white adipose tissue (WAT) is severely compromised in mutant mice. Also, electrophysiological and histomorphomolecular analyses indicate a selective reduction in sympathetic nerve activity and brown-fat-like characteristics in perigonadal WAT of mutant mice; suggesting a physiologically important role for POMC neurons in controlling this visceral fat depot. In summary, our results provide direct genetic evidence that SIRT1 in POMC neurons is required for normal autonomic adaptations against diet-induced obesity.
Phosphatidyl inositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signalling in the hypothalamus has been implicated in the regulation of energy homeostasis, but the critical brain sites where this intracellular signal integrates various metabolic cues to regulate food intake and energy expenditure are unknown. Here we show that mice with reduced PI3K activity in the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) are more sensitive to high fat diet-induced obesity due to reduced energy expenditure. In addition, inhibition of PI3K in the VMH impaired the ability to alter energy expenditure in response to acute high fat diet feeding and food deprivation. Furthermore, the acute anorexigenic effects induced by exogenous leptin were blunted in the mutant mice. Collectively, our results indicate that PI3K activity in VMH neurons plays a physiologically relevant role in the regulation of energy expenditure.
Mice lacking 5-HT 2C receptors (5-HT2CRs) displayed insulin resistance in the liver, a phenotype normalized by re-expression of 5-HT2CRs only in pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons. 5-HT2CR deficiency also abolished anti-diabetic effects of mCPP (a 5-HT2CR agonist) while such effects were restored in mice with 5-HT2CRs re-expressed in POMC neurons. Our findings demonstrated that 5-HT2CRs expressed by POMC neurons are physiologically relevant regulators of insulin sensitivity and glucose homeostasis in the liver.
Circulating leptin and insulin convey information regarding energy stores to the central nervous system, particularly the hypothalamus. Hypothalamic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons regulate energy balance and glucose homeostasis and express leptin and insulin receptors. However, the physiological significance of concomitant leptin and insulin action on POMC neurons remains to be established. Here we show that mice lacking both insulin and LepRs in POMC neurons (Pomc-Cre, Leprflox/flox IRflox/flox mice) display systemic insulin resistance, which is distinct from the single deletion of either receptor. In addition, Pomc-Cre, Leprflox/flox IRflox/flox female mice display elevated serum testosterone levels and ovarian abnormalities resulting in reduced fertility. We conclude that direct action of insulin and leptin on POMC neurons is required to maintain normal glucose homeostasis and reproductive function.
Several neurodegenerative diseases involve the selective damage of neuron cells resulting from the accumulation of amyloid fibril formation. Considering that the formation of amyloid fibrils as well as their precursor oligomers is cytotoxic, the agents that prevent the formation of oligomers and/or fibrils might allow the development of a novel therapeutic approach to neurodegenerative diseases. Here, we show pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ) inhibits the amyloid fibril formation of the amyloid proteins, amyloid β (1–42) and mouse prion protein. The fibril formation of mouse prion protein in the presence of PQQ was dramatically prevented. Similarly, the fibril formation of amyloid β (1–42) also decreased. With further advanced pharmacological approaches, PQQ may become a leading anti-neurodegenerative compound in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases.
amyloid β; amyloid fibril; cytotoxicity; fibril formation; inhibitor; prion; pyrroloquinoline quinone
The PI3K-Akt-FoxO1 pathway contributes to the actions of insulin and leptin in several cell types, including neurons in the central nervous system. However, identifying these actions in chemically identified neurons has proven difficult. To address this problem, we have developed a reporter mouse for monitoring PI3K-Akt signaling in specific populations of neurons, based on FoxO1 nucleocytoplasmic shuttling. The reporter, FoxO1 fused to GFP (FoxO1GFP), is expressed under the control of a ubiquitous promoter that is silenced by a loxP flanked transcriptional blocker. Thus, the expression of the reporter in selected cells is dependent on the action Cre-recombinase. Using this model, we found that insulin treatment resulted in the nuclear exclusion of FoxO1GFP within POMC and AgRP neurons in a dose- and time-dependent manner. FoxO1GFP nuclear exclusion was also observed in POMC neurons following in vivo administration of insulin. In addition, leptin induced transient nuclear export of FoxO1GFP in POMC neurons in a dose dependent fashion. Finally, insulin-induced nuclear export was impaired in POMC neurons by pretreatment with free fatty acids, a paradigm known to induce insulin resistance in peripheral insulin target tissues. Thus, our FoxO1GFP mouse provides a tool for monitoring the status of PI3K-Akt signaling in a cell-specific manner under physiological and pathophysiological conditions.
FoxO1; POMC neurons; AgRP neurons; insulin; Free fatty acids; insulin resistance
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latent membrane protein 2A (LMP2A) is widely expressed in EBV-infected cells within the infected human host and EBV-associated malignancies, suggesting that LMP2A is important for EBV latency, persistence, and EBV-associated tumorigenesis. Previously, we demonstrated that LMP2A provides an antiapoptotic signal through the activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)/Akt pathway in vitro. However, the exact function of LMP2A in tumor progression is not well understood. In this study, we found that LMP2A did not induce anchorage-independent cell growth in a human keratinocyte cell line, HaCaT, but did in a human gastric carcinoma cell line, HSC-39. In addition, LMP2A activated the PI3-K/Akt pathway in both HaCaT and HSC-39 cells; however, LMP2A did not activate Ras in HaCaT cells but did in HSC-39 cells. Furthermore, the Ras inhibitors manumycin A and a dominant-negative form of Ras (RasN17) and the PI3-K inhibitor LY294002 blocked LMP2A-mediated Akt phosphorylation and anchorage-independent cell growth in HSC-39 cells. These results suggest that constitutive activation of the Ras/PI3-K/Akt pathway by LMP2A is a key factor for LMP2A-mediated transformation.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a human herpesvirus that establishes a lifelong latent infection of B cells. Within the immune system, apoptosis is a central mechanism in normal lymphocyte homeostasis both during early lymphocyte development and in response to antigenic stimuli. In this study, we found that latent membrane protein 2A (LMP2A) inhibited B-cell receptor (BCR)-induced apoptosis in Burkitt's lymphoma cell lines. Genistein, a specific inhibitor of tyrosine-specific protein kinases, blocked BCR-induced apoptosis and EBV reactivation in the cells. These findings indicate that LMP2A blocks BCR-induced cell apoptosis and EBV reactivation through the inhibition of activation of tyrosine kinases by BCR cross-linking.
Latent membrane protein 2A (LMP2A) blocks B-cell receptor signal transduction in vitro by binding the Syk and Lyn protein tyrosine kinases. As well as blocking B-cell signal transduction, LMP2A has been shown to activate the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3-K)/Akt pathway, which acts as a survival signal in both B cells and epithelial cells. Transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1) is a multifunctional cytokine that plays important roles in regulating cell growth and differentiation in many biological systems. The loss of the growth-inhibitory response to the TGF-β1 signal is found in many cancers and is widely thought to promote tumor development. In this study, we found that LMP2A induced the phosphorylation of Akt (serine 473) in Burkitt's lymphoma cell line Ramos and in gastric carcinoma cell line HSC-39 and partially enhanced cell viability following TGF-β1 treatment. In addition, LMP2A partially inhibited TGF-β1-induced DNA fragmentation and cleavage of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP). In the presence of LY294002, an inhibitor of PI3-K, the LMP2A-mediated inhibitory effects on TGF-β1-induced DNA fragmentation and cleavage of PARP were alleviated. Furthermore, LMP2A did not alter the levels of expression of type I and type II TGF-β1 receptors. Taken together, these results suggest that LMP2A may inhibit TGF-β1-mediated apoptosis through activation of the PI3-K/Akt pathway.
In response to extracellular stimuli, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK, also known as ERK), which localizes to the cytoplasm in quiescent cells, translocates to the nucleus and then relocalizes to the cytoplasm again. The relocalization of nuclear MAPK to the cytoplasm was not inhibited by cycloheximide, confirming that the relocalization is achieved by nuclear export, but not synthesis, of MAPK. The nuclear export of MAPK was inhibited by leptomycin B (LMB), a specific inhibitor of the nuclear export signal (NES)-dependent transport. We have then shown that MAP kinase kinase (MAPKK, also known as MEK), which mostly localizes to the cytoplasm because of its having NES, is able to shuttle between the cytoplasm and the nucleus constantly. MAPK, when injected into the nucleus, was rapidly exported from the nucleus by coinjected wild-type MAPKK, but not by the NES-disrupted MAPKK. In addition, injection of the fragment corresponding to the MAPK-binding site of MAPKK into the nucleus, which would disrupt the binding of MAPK to MAPKK in the nucleus, significantly inhibited the nuclear export of endogenous MAPK. Taken together, these results suggest that the relocalization of nuclear MAPK to the cytoplasm involves a MAPKK-dependent, active transport mechanism.
leptomycin B; MAP kinase; nuclear; export; phosphorylation; signal transduction