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Endocrinology November 1, 2014; 155 (11): 4202-14.

Ancient origins and evolutionary conservation of intracellular and neural signaling pathways engaged by the leptin receptor.

Cui MY , Hu CK , Pelletier C , Dziuba A , Slupski RH , Li C , Denver RJ .

In mammals, leptin acts on leptin receptor (LepR) -expressing neurons in the brain to suppress food intake and stimulate whole-body metabolism. A similar action of leptin on food intake has been reported in the frog Xenopus laevis and in several bony fishes. However, the intracellular signaling and neural pathways by which leptin regulates energy balance have not been investigated outside of mammals. Using reporter assays and site-directed mutagenesis we show that the frog LepR signals via signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT) 3 and STAT5 through evolutionarily conserved tyrosine residues in the LepR cytoplasmic domain. In situ hybridization histochemistry for LepR mRNA in brain and pituitary showed strong expression in the magno- and parvocellular divisions of the anterior preoptic area (homologous to the mammalian paraventricular nucleus), the suprachiasmatic nucleus, ventral hypothalamus, and pars intermedia and pars distalis of the anterior pituitary. Leptin injection increased phosphorylated STAT3 immunoreactivity in LepR mRNA-positive cells, and induced socs3 and pomc mRNAs. Microarray analysis of preoptic area/hypothalamus/pituitary 2 hours after leptin injection identified leptin-regulated genes that included c-fos, a known leptin-activated gene; pituitary follicle-stimulating hormone subunit β, suggesting an important role for leptin in the reproductive axis of frogs; and B-cell translocation factor 2, which has important functions in neurogenesis. Our findings support that the intracellular signaling pathways and neural substrates that mediate leptin actions on energy balance were present in the common ancestor of modern amphibians and amniotes and have been conserved over 350 million years of evolutionary time.

PubMed ID: 25153147
Article link: Endocrinology

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: fos lep lepr pomc socs3 stat3.1 stat3.2 stat5b

GEO Series: GSE60053: NCBI