Evidence of a possible role for Lys-gamma3-MSH in the regulation of adipocyte function

Stephen C Harmer, David J Pepper, Katy Cooke, Hugh P J Bennett, Andrew B Bicknell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Lys-gamma3-MSH is a melanocortin peptide derived from the C-terminal of the 16 kDa fragment of POMC. The physiological role of Lys-gamma3-MSH is unclear, although it has previously been shown that, although not directly steroidogenic, it can act to potentiate the steroidogenic response of adrenal cortical cells to ACTH. This synergistic effect appears to be correlated with an ability to increase the activity of hormone sensitive lipase (HSL) and therefore the rate of cholesterol ester hydrolysis. Ligand binding studies have suggested that high-affinity binding sites for Lys-gamma3-MSH exist in the adrenal gland and a number of other rat tissues that express HSL, including adipose, skeletal muscle and testes. To investigate the hypothesis that Lys-gamma3-MSH may play a wider role in cholesterol and lipid metabolism, we tested the effect of Lys-gamma3-MSH on lipolysis, an HSL-mediated process, in 3T3-L1 adipocytes. In comparison with other melanocortin peptides, Lys-gamma3-MSH was found to be a potent stimulator of lipolysis. It was also able to phosphorylate HSL at key serine residues and stimulate the hyperphosphorylation of perilipin A. The receptor through which the lipolytic actions of Lys-gamma3-MSH are being mediated is not clear. Attempts to characterise this receptor suggest that either the pharmacology of the melanocortin receptor 5 in 3T3-L1 adipocytes is different from that described when expressed in heterologous systems or the possibility that a further, as yet uncharacterised, receptor exists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-58
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • 3T3-L1 Cells
  • Adipocytes/physiology
  • Adrenocorticotropic Hormone/pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cholesterol Esters/metabolism
  • Hydrolysis
  • Lipolysis/drug effects
  • Mice
  • Peptide Fragments/pharmacology
  • Perilipin-1
  • Phosphoproteins/metabolism
  • Phosphorylation/drug effects
  • Pro-Opiomelanocortin/pharmacology
  • Sterol Esterase/metabolism
  • alpha-MSH/analogs & derivatives


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