The melanocortin-4 receptor (MC4R) plays a critical role in the control of energy balance. Of its two pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC)-derived ligands, α- and β-MSH, the majority of attention has focused on α-MSH, partly reflecting the absence of β-MSH in rodents. We screened the POMC gene in 538 patients with severe, early-onset obesity and identified five unrelated probands who were heterozygous for a rare missense variant in the region encoding β-MSH, Tyr221Cys. This frequency was significantly increased (p < 0.001) compared to the general UK Caucasian population and the variant cosegregated with obesity/overweight in affected family members. Compared to wild-type β-MSH, the variant peptide was impaired in its ability to bind to and activate signaling from the MC4R. Obese children carrying the Tyr221Cys variant were hyperphagic and showed increased linear growth, both of which are features of MC4R deficiency. These studies support a role for β-MSH in the control of human energy homeostasis. © 2006 Elsevier Inc.
Lee, Y. S., Challis, B. G., Thompson, D. A., Yeo, G. S. H., Keogh, J. M., Madonna, M. E., … Farooqi, I. S. (2006). A POMC variant implicates β-melanocyte-stimulating hormone in the control of human energy balance. Cell Metabolism, 3(2), 135–140. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2006.01.006