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Pharmacological characterization of fish melanocortin-4 and melanocortin-5 receptors




Liu, Ting

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


General Veterinary Medicine

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) plays an important role in the regulation of food intake and energy expenditure. The melanocortin-5 receptor (MC5R) has been implicated in the regulation of exocrine gland secretion, immune regulation, and muscle fatty acid oxidation in mammals. Melanocortin-2 receptor accessory protein 2 (MRAP2) modulates trafficking, ligand binding, and signaling of melanocortin receptors. To explore pharmacological properties of MCRs and their modulation by MRAP2 in teleosts, we conducted experiments on snakehead MC4R/MRAP2 and ricefield eel MC5R/MRAP2. The Northern snakehead (Channa argus) is an economically important freshwater fish native to East Asia. To explore potential interaction between snakehead MC4R and MRAP2, herein we cloned snakehead mc4r and mrap2. The snakehead mc4r consisted of a 984 bp open reading frame encoding a protein of 327 amino acids, while snakehead mrap2 contained a 693 bp open reading frame encoding a protein of 230 amino acids. Synteny analysis indicated that mc4r was highly conserved with similar gene arrangement, while mrap2 contained two isoforms in teleost with different gene orders. Snakehead mc4r was primarily expressed in the brain, whereas mrap2 was expressed in the brain and intestine. Snakehead mc4r and mrap2 expression was modulated by fasting and refeeding. Further pharmacological experiments showed that the cloned snakehead MC4R was functional, capable of binding to peptide agonists and increasing intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) production in a dose-dependent manner. Snakehead MC4R exhibited high constitutive activity. MRAP2 significantly decreased basal and agonist-stimulated cAMP signaling. These findings suggest that snakehead MC4R might be involved in energy balance regulation by interacting with MRAP2. Further studies are needed to elucidate MC4R in regulating diverse physiological processes in snakehead. The ricefield eel (Monopterus albus) has significant economic and research value. To explore potential interaction between ricefield eel MC5R and MRAP2s (maMC5R, maMRAP2X1, and maMRAP2X2), herein we studied the pharmacological characteristics of maMC5R and its modulation by maMRAP2s. Three agonists, alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), ACTH (1-24), and [Nle4, D-Phe7]-alpha-MSH, could bind to maMC5R and induce intracellular cAMP production dose-dependently. Compared with human MC5R (hMC5R), maMC5R displayed decreased maximal binding but higher binding affinity to alpha-MSH or ACTH (1-24). When stimulated with alpha-MSH or ACTH (1-24), maMC5R showed significantly lower EC50 and maximal response than hMC5R. Two maMRAP2s had no effect on cell surface expression of maMC5R, whereas they significantly increased maximal binding. Only maMRAP2X2 significantly decreased the binding affinity of ACTH (1-24). Both maMRAP2X1 and maMRAP2X2 significantly reduced maMC5R efficacy but did not affect ligand sensitivity. The availability of maMC5R pharmacological characteristics and modulation by maMRAP2s will assist the investigation of its roles in regulating diverse physiological processes in ricefield eel.