Differential signaling profiles of MC4R mutations with three different ligands

Sarah Paisdzior, Ioanna Maria Dimitriou, Paul Curtis Schöpe, Paolo Annibale, Patrick Scheerer, Heiko Krude, Martin J. Lohse, Heike Biebermann, Peter Kühnen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R) is a key player in hypothalamic weight regulation and energy expenditure as part of the leptin–melanocortin pathway. Mutations in this G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) are the most common cause for monogenetic obesity, which appears to be mediated by changes in the anorectic action of MC4R via GS-dependent cyclic adenosinemonophosphate (cAMP) signaling as well as other signaling pathways. To study potential bias in the effects of MC4R mutations between the different signaling pathways, we investigated three major MC4R mutations: a GS loss-of-function (S127L) and a GS gain-of-function mutant (H158R), as well as the most common European single nucleotide polymorphism (V103I). We tested signaling of all four major G protein families plus extracellular regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation and β-arrestin2 recruitment, using the two endogenous agonists, α- and β-melanocyte stimulating hormone (MSH), along with a synthetic peptide agonist (NDP-α-MSH). The S127L mutation led to a full loss-of-function in all investigated pathways, whereas V103I and H158R were clearly biased towards the Gq/11 pathway when challenged with the endogenous ligands. These results show that MC4R mutations can cause vastly different changes in the various MC4R signaling pathways and highlight the importance of a comprehensive characterization of receptor mutations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1224
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 12 Feb 2020


  • Biased signaling
  • G protein coupled receptor (GPCR)
  • Melanocortin 4 receptor (MC4R)
  • Melanocyte stimulating hormones MSH


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