Background: The adipokine leptin realizes signal transduction via four different membrane-anchored leptin receptor (Ob-R) isoforms in humans. However, the amount of functionally active Ob-R is affected by constitutive shedding of the extracellular domain via a so far unknown mechanism. The product of the cleavage process the so-called soluble leptin receptor (sOb-R) is the main binding protein for leptin in human blood and modulates its bioavailability. sOb-R levels are differentially regulated in metabolic disorders like type 1 diabetes mellitus or obesity and can, therefore, enhance or reduce leptin sensitivity. Methodology/Principal Findings: To describe mechanisms of Ob-R cleavage and to investigate the functional significance of differential sOb-R levels we established a model of HEK293 cells transiently transfected with different human Ob-R isoforms. Using siRNA knockdown experiments we identified ADAM10 (A Disintegrin And Metalloproteinase 10) as a major protease for constitutive and activated Ob-R cleavage. Additionally, the induction of lipotoxicity and apoptosis led to enhanced shedding shown by increased levels of the soluble leptin receptor (sOb-R) in cell supernatants. Conversely, high leptin concentrations and ER stress reduced sOb-R levels. Decreased amounts of sOb-R due to ER stress were accompanied by impaired leptin signaling and reduced leptin binding. Conclusions: Lipotoxicity and apoptosis increased Ob-R cleavage via ADAM10-dependent mechanisms. In contrast high leptin levels and ER stress led to reduced sOb-R levels. While increased sOb-R concentrations seem to directly block leptin action, reduced amounts of sOb-R may reflect decreased membrane expression of Ob-R. These findings could explain changes of leptin sensitivity which are associated with variations of serum sOb-R levels in metabolic diseases. © 2012 Schaab et al.
Schaab, M., Kausch, H., Klammt, J., Nowicki, M., Anderegg, U., Gebhardt, R., … Kratzsch, J. (2012). Novel regulatory mechanisms for generation of the soluble leptin receptor: Implications for leptin action. PLoS ONE, 7(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0034787