Melanin-concentrating hormone is the cognate ligand for the orphan G-protein-coupled receptor SLC-1.

PMID 10421367


The underlying causes of obesity are poorly understood but probably involve complex interactions between many neurotransmitter and neuropeptide systems involved in the regulation of food intake and energy balance. Three pieces of evidence indicate that the neuropeptide melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) is an important component of this system. First, MCH stimulates feeding when injected directly into rat brains; second, the messenger RNA for the MCH precursor is upregulated in the hypothalamus of genetically obese mice and in fasted animals; and third, mice lacking MCH eat less and are lean. MCH antagonists might, therefore, provide a treatment for obesity. However, the development of such molecules has been hampered because the identity of the MCH receptor has been unknown until now. Here we show that the 353-amino-acid human orphan G-protein-coupled receptor SLC-1 expressed in HEK293 cells binds MCH with sub-nanomolar affinity, and is stimulated by MCH to mobilize intracellular Ca2+ and reduce forskolin-elevated cyclic AMP levels. We also show that SLC-1 messenger RNA and protein is expressed in the ventromedial and dorsomedial nuclei of the hypothalamus, consistent with a role for SLC-1 in mediating the effects of MCH on feeding.

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