Widespread expression of Agouti-related protein (AGRP) in the chicken: A possible involvement of AGRP in regulating peripheral melanocortin systems in the chicken

Sakae Takeuchi, Kiyoshi Teshigawara, Sumio Takahashi

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71 Citations (Scopus)


Agouti-related protein (AGRP) is a naturally occurring antagonist of melanocortin action. It is expressed mainly in the arcuate nucleus where it plays an important role in the hypothalamic control of feeding and energy homeostasis by antagonism of central melanocortin 4 receptors in mammals. Besides in the brain, the melanocortin 4 receptor is expressed in numerous peripheral tissues in the chicken. To examine whether or not the peripheral melanocortin 4 receptor signaling could be regulated by AGRP, we cloned and localized the expression of the AGRP gene in the chicken. The chicken AGRP gene was found to encode a 154 or 165 amino acid protein, depending on the usage of two alternative translation initiation sites. The coding sequence consisted of three exons, like that of mammalian species. The C-terminal cysteine-rich region of the predicted AGRP displayed high levels of identity to mammalian counterparts (78-84%) and all 10 cysteine residues conferring functional conformation of AGRP were conserved; however, other regions showed apparently no homology, suggesting that biological activities of AGRP are located in its C-terminal region. RT-PCR analysis detected the AGRP mRNA in all tissues examined: the brain, adrenal gland, heart, liver, spleen, gonads, kidney, uropygial gland, skeletal muscle and adipose tissues. Interestingly, the skin also expressed the AGRP mRNA, where Agouti, another melanocortin receptor antagonist regulating hair pigmentation, is expressed in rodents. Most of those AGRP-expressing tissues have been demonstrated to express melanocortin 4 receptors and/or other subtypes of melanocortin receptor whose mammalian counterparts can bind AGRP. These results imply the possibility that some peripheral melanocortin systems could be regulated by the functional interaction between melanocortins and AGRP at melanocortin receptors in the chicken. Copyright (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-269
Number of pages9
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular Cell Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - Apr 17 2000


  • Agouti-related protein
  • Chicken
  • Cloning
  • Melanocortin
  • Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction
  • Tissue distribution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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