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The melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) plays an important role in the regulation of appetite and energy expenditure in humans and rodents. Impairment of MC4R signaling causes severe obesity. MC4R mainly couples to the G-protein Gs. Ligand binding to MC4R activates adenylyl cyclase resulting in increased intracellular cAMP levels. cAMP acts as a secondary messenger, regulating various cellular processes. MC4R can also couple with Gq and other signaling pathways. Therefore, the contribution of MC4R/Gs signaling to energy metabolism and appetite remains unclear. To study the effect of Gs signaling activation in MC4R cells on whole body energy metabolism and appetite, we generated a novel mouse strain that expresses a Gs-coupled designer receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs [Gs-DREADD (GsD)] selectively in MC4R-expressing cells (GsD-MC4R mice). Chemogenetic activation of the GsD by a designer drug [deschloroclozapine (DCZ); 0.01∼0.1 mg/kg body wt] in MC4R-expressing cells significantly increased oxygen consumption and locomotor activity. In addition, GsD activation significantly reduced the respiratory exchange ratio, promoting fatty acid oxidation, but did not affect core (rectal) temperature. A low dose of DCZ (0.01 mg/kg body wt) did not suppress food intake, but a high dose of DCZ (0.1 mg/kg body wt) suppressed food intake in MC4R-GsD mice, although either DCZ dose (0.01 or 0.1 mg/kg body wt) did not affect food intake in the control mice. In conclusion, the current study demonstrated that the stimulation of Gs signaling in MC4R-expressing cells increases energy expenditure and locomotor activity and suppresses appetite.NEW & NOTEWORTHY We report that Gs signaling in melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R)-expressing cells regulates energy expenditure, appetite, and locomotor activity. These findings shed light on the mechanism underlying the regulation of energy metabolism and locomotor activity by MC4R/cAMP signaling.


Shigenobu Matsumura, Motoki Miyakita, Haruka Miyamori, Satomi Kyo, Daisuke Shima, Takumi Yokokawa, Fuka Ishikawa, Tsutomu Sasaki, Tomoki Jinno, Jin Tanaka, Tsuyoshi Goto, Keiko Momma, Kengo Ishihara, Rebecca Berdeaux, Kazuo Inoue. Stimulation of Gs signaling in MC4R cells by DREADD increases energy expenditure, suppresses food intake, and increases locomotor activity in mice. American journal of physiology. Endocrinology and metabolism. 2022 May 01;322(5):E436-E445

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PMID: 35344393

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