Cyclic AMP, PKA, and the physiological regulation of adiposity

Recent Prog Horm Res. 1998:53:139-59; discussion 160-1.


The major regulator of lipolysis in white adipocytes and brown adipocytes is cAMP and the actions of cAMP are mediated by protein kinase A (PKA). Multiple subunits of PKA, including RII beta, R1 alpha, C alpha, and C beta 1, are expressed in fat cells but the major holoenzyme assembled under normal conditions contains RII beta and C alpha. Targeted disruption of the RII beta gene in mice revealed that both white and brown adipocytes are capable of compensating by increasing the level of RI alpha. Nevertheless, the mice display a lean phenotype, have an elevated metabolic rate due to activation and induction of uncoupling protein in brown fat, and are resistant to diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Although the metabolic disturbances in white and brown fat tissue may explain most of the phenotypic changes, the loss of neuronal expression of RII beta may also contribute to the alterations in energy balance. Specific neuronal defects have been characterized that prevent the normal changes in gene expression seen with drugs that act through the dopaminergic pathway. The RII beta mutant mouse provides an interesting model of obesity resistance and demonstrates that chronic changes in the PKA signaling system can lead to stable alterations in energy storage and utilization.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cyclic AMP / physiology*
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases / physiology*
  • Mice


  • Cyclic AMP
  • Cyclic AMP-Dependent Protein Kinases