PloS one

Identification of fat mass and obesity associated (FTO) protein expression in cardiomyocytes: regulation by leptin and its contribution to leptin-induced hypertrophy.

PMID 24019958


The recently-identified fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) protein is associated with various physiological functions including energy and body weight regulation. Ubiquitously expressed, FTO was identified in heart homogenates although its function is unknown. We studied whether FTO is specifically expressed within the cardiac myocyte and its potential role pertaining to the hypertrophic effect of the adipokine leptin. Most experiments were performed using cultured neonatal rat cardiomyocytes which showed nuclei-specific FTO expression. Leptin significantly increased FTO expression which was associated with myocyte hypertrophy although both events were abrogated by FTO knockdown with siRNA. Administration of a leptin receptor antibody to either normal or obese rats significant reduced myocardial FTO protein expression. Responses in cardiomyocytes were accompanied by JAK2/STAT3 activation whereas JAK2/STAT3 inhibition abolished these effects. Expression of the cut-like homeobox 1(CUX1) transcriptional factor was significantly increased by leptin although this was restricted to the cathepsin L-dependent, proteolytically-derived shorter p110CUX1 isoform whereas the longer p200CUX1 protein was not significantly affected. Cathepsin L expression and activity were both significantly increased by leptin whereas a cathepsin L peptide inhibitor or siRNA specific for CUX1 completely prevented the leptin-induced increase in FTO expression. The cathepsin L peptide inhibitor or siRNA-induced knockdown of either CUX1 or FTO abrogated the hypertrophic response to leptin. Two other pro-hypertrophic factors, endothelin-1 or angiotensin II had no effect on FTO expression and FTO knockdown did not alter the hypertrophic response to either agent. This study demonstrates leptin-induced FTO upregulation in cardiomyocytes via JAK2/STAT3- dependent CUX1 upregulation and suggests an FTO regulatory function of leptin. It also demonstrates for the first time a functional role of FTO in the cardiomyocyte.

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C6854 Cathepsin L from human liver, ≥0.5 units/mg protein, solution