Nature genetics

Inactivation of the mouse melanocortin-3 receptor results in increased fat mass and reduced lean body mass.

PMID 10973258


Genetic and pharmacological studies have defined a role for the melanocortin-4 receptor (Mc4r) in the regulation of energy homeostasis. The physiological function of Mc3r, a melanocortin receptor expressed at high levels in the hypothalamus, has remained unknown. We evaluated the potential role of Mc3r in energy homeostasis by studying Mc3r-deficient (Mc3r(-/-)) mice and compared the functions of Mc3r and Mc4r in mice deficient for both genes. The 4-6-month Mc3r-/- mice have increased fat mass, reduced lean mass and higher feed efficiency than wild-type littermates, despite being hypophagic and maintaining normal metabolic rates. (Feed efficiency is the ratio of weight gain to food intake.) Consistent with increased fat mass, Mc3r(-/-) mice are hyperleptinaemic and male Mc3r(-/-) mice develop mild hyperinsulinaemia. Mc3r(-/-) mice did not have significantly altered corticosterone or total thyroxine (T4) levels. Mice lacking both Mc3r and Mc4r become significantly heavier than Mc4r(-/-) mice. We conclude that Mc3r and Mc4r serve non-redundant roles in the regulation of energy homeostasis.