The agouti locus encodes a novel paracrine signaling molecule containing a signal sequence, an N-linked glycosylation site, a central lysine-rich basic domain, and a C-terminal tail containing 10 cysteine (Cys) residues capable of forming five disulfide bonds. When overexpressed, agouti causes a number of pleiotropic effects including yellow coat and adult-onset obesity. Numerous studies suggest that agouti causes yellow coat color by antagonizing the binding of α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) to the α-MSH- (melanocortin-1) receptor. With the goal of identifying functional domains of agouti important for its diverse activities, we have generated 14 agouti mutations by in vitro site-directed mutagenesis and analyzed these mutations in transgenic mice for their effects on coat color and obesity. These studies demonstrate that the signal sequence, the N-linked glycosylation site, and the C-terminal Cys residues are important for full biological activity, while at least a portion of the lysine-rich basic domain is dispensable for normal function. They also show that the same functional domains of agouti important in coat color determination are important for inducing obesity, consistent with the hypothesis that agouti induces obesity by antagonizing melanocortin binding to other melanocortin receptors.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||10|
|State||Published - Sep 14 1996|
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