Agouti-related protein functions as an inverse agonist at a constitutively active brain melanocortin-4 receptor

Regul Pept. 2001 May 5;99(1):1-7. doi: 10.1016/s0167-0115(01)00234-8.


Agouti-related protein (AGRP) is one of two naturally occurring antagonists of G-Protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) identified to date, and has been physiologically implicated in regulating food intake, body weight, and energy homeostasis. AGRP has been identified in vitro, as competitively antagonizing the brain melanocortin-4 (MC4R) and melanocortin-3 (MC3R) receptors, and when over expressed in transgenic mice, results in an obese phenotype. Emerging data propose that AGRP has additional targets in the hypothalamus and/or physiologically functions via a mechanism in addition to competitive antagonism of alpha-MSH at the brain melanocortin receptors. We report data herein supporting an alternative mechanism for AGRP involvement in feeding behavior. A constitutively active MC4R has been generated which possess EC(50) values for melanocortin agonists (alpha-MSH, NDP-MSH, and MTII) and a pA2 value for the synthetic peptide antagonist SHU9119 identical to the wildtype receptor, but increases basal activity to 50% maximal response. AGRP possesses inverse agonist activity at this constitutively active MC4R. These data support the hypothesis for an additional physiological mechanism for AGRP action in feeding behavior and energy homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Cell Line
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Peptide Fragments / physiology*
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4
  • Receptors, Peptide / agonists*
  • Receptors, Peptide / genetics


  • Agouti-Related Protein
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4
  • Receptors, Peptide
  • agouti-related protein-(83-132)