Melanocortin-4 receptor gene mutations in a Dutch cohort of obese children

Obesity (Silver Spring). 2011 Mar;19(3):604-11. doi: 10.1038/oby.2010.259. Epub 2010 Oct 21.


The most common monogenic form of obesity is caused by mutations in the gene encoding the melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R). We have screened the MC4R coding sequence in 291 patients of a Dutch outpatient pediatric obesity clinic. We analyzed the minimal promoter region of the gene in a random subgroup of 217 children. Our aims were (i) to determine the frequency of MC4R mutations in a cohort of Dutch clinically obese children and (ii) to search for mutations in the promoter of the gene. Eleven MC4R coding variants were detected. Five children had mutations that have been shown to affect receptor function by other research groups (p.Y35X, p.I251fs, p.G231S). These children did not have earlier onset of obesity or higher BMI-SDS than the remainder of the cohort. One child had a novel nonsynonymous coding mutation (p.L304F). This variant showed a markedly decreased cell surface expression in in vitro experiments and is thus expected to be pathogenic. We detected 12 variants in the MC4R flanking regions. Five of these were not previously described (c.-1101C>T, c.-705A>T, c.-461A>G, c.-312T>C, c.-213A>G). We investigated these mutations by family studies and a bioinformatic approach. We conclude that rare heterozygous mutations in the coding sequence of MC4R account for some severe obesity cases in the Dutch population. These patients are difficult to recognize in a clinical setting. We generated a list of all MC4R variants that were described in the literature so far, which can aid the interpretation of mutations found in a diagnostic setting.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mutation*
  • Netherlands
  • Obesity, Morbid / genetics*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / genetics*


  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4