skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Ectopic expression of the agouti gene in transgenic mice causes obesity, features of type II diabetes, and yellow fur

Abstract

Mice that carry the lethal yellow (A{sup y}) or viable yellow (A{sup vy}) mutation, two dominant mutations of the agouti (a) gene in mouse chromosome 2, exhibit a phenotype that includes yellow fur, marked obesity, a form of type II diabetes associated with insulin resistance, and an increased susceptibility to tumor development. Molecular analyses of these and several other dominant {open_quotes}obese yellow{close_quotes} a-locus mutations suggested that ectopic expression of the normal agouti protein gives rise to this complex pleiotropic phenotype. We have now tested this hypothesis directly by generating transgenic mice that ectopically express an agouti cDNA clone encoding the normal agouti protein in all tissues examined. Transgenic mice of both sexes have yellow fur, become obese, and develop hyperinsulinemia. In addition, male transgenic mice develop hyperglycemia by 12-20 weeks of age. These results demonstrate conclusively that the ectopic agouti expression is responsible for most, if not all, of the phenotypic traits of the dominant, obese yellow mutants. 42 refs., 5 figs.

Authors:
;  [1];  [2];  [3]
  1. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  2. Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
  3. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN (United States)|[Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
75383
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America; Journal Volume: 92; Journal Issue: 11; Other Information: PBD: 23 May 1995
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
55 BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE, BASIC STUDIES; TRANSGENIC MICE; DOMINANT MUTATIONS; PHENOTYPE; HAIR; GENETIC CONTROL; NEOPLASMS; DIABETES MELLITUS

Citation Formats

Klebig, M.L., Woychik, R.P., Wilkinson, J.E., and Geisler, J.G. Ectopic expression of the agouti gene in transgenic mice causes obesity, features of type II diabetes, and yellow fur. United States: N. p., 1995. Web. doi:10.1073/pnas.92.11.4728.
Klebig, M.L., Woychik, R.P., Wilkinson, J.E., & Geisler, J.G. Ectopic expression of the agouti gene in transgenic mice causes obesity, features of type II diabetes, and yellow fur. United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.92.11.4728.
Klebig, M.L., Woychik, R.P., Wilkinson, J.E., and Geisler, J.G. 1995. "Ectopic expression of the agouti gene in transgenic mice causes obesity, features of type II diabetes, and yellow fur". United States. doi:10.1073/pnas.92.11.4728.
@article{osti_75383,
title = {Ectopic expression of the agouti gene in transgenic mice causes obesity, features of type II diabetes, and yellow fur},
author = {Klebig, M.L. and Woychik, R.P. and Wilkinson, J.E. and Geisler, J.G.},
abstractNote = {Mice that carry the lethal yellow (A{sup y}) or viable yellow (A{sup vy}) mutation, two dominant mutations of the agouti (a) gene in mouse chromosome 2, exhibit a phenotype that includes yellow fur, marked obesity, a form of type II diabetes associated with insulin resistance, and an increased susceptibility to tumor development. Molecular analyses of these and several other dominant {open_quotes}obese yellow{close_quotes} a-locus mutations suggested that ectopic expression of the normal agouti protein gives rise to this complex pleiotropic phenotype. We have now tested this hypothesis directly by generating transgenic mice that ectopically express an agouti cDNA clone encoding the normal agouti protein in all tissues examined. Transgenic mice of both sexes have yellow fur, become obese, and develop hyperinsulinemia. In addition, male transgenic mice develop hyperglycemia by 12-20 weeks of age. These results demonstrate conclusively that the ectopic agouti expression is responsible for most, if not all, of the phenotypic traits of the dominant, obese yellow mutants. 42 refs., 5 figs.},
doi = {10.1073/pnas.92.11.4728},
journal = {Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America},
number = 11,
volume = 92,
place = {United States},
year = 1995,
month = 5
}
  • Background: The agouti protein is a paracrine factor that is normally present in the skin of many species of mammals. Agouti regulates the switch between black and yellow hair pigmentation by signalling through the melanocortin 1 receptor (Mc1r) on melanocytes. Lethal yellow (Ay) and viable yellow (Avy) are dominant regulatory mutations in the mouse agouti gene that cause the wild- ype protein to be produced at abnormally high levels throughout the body. Mice harboring these mutations exhibit a pleiotropic syndrome characterized by yellow coat color, obesity, hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, and increased susceptibility to hyperplasia and carcinogenesis in numerous tissues, including themore » liver. The goal of this research was to determine if ectopic expression of the agouti gene in the liver alone is sufficient to recapitulate any aspect of this syndrome. For this purpose, we generated lines of transgenic mice expressing high levels of agouti in the liver under the regulatory control of the albumin promoter. Expression levels of the agouti transgene in the liver were quantified by Northern blot analysis. Functional agouti protein in the liver of transgenic mice was assayed by its ability to inhibit binding of the -melanocyte stimulating hormone ( MSH) to the Mc1r. Body weight, plasma insulin and blood glucose levels were analyzed in control and transgenic mice. Control and transgenic male mice were given a single intraperitoneal injection (10 mg/kg) of the hepatocellular carcinogen, diethylnitrosamine (DEN), at 15 days of age. Mice were euthanized at 36 or 40 weeks after DEN injection and the number of tumors per liver and total liver weights were recorded. Results: The albumin-agouti transgene was expressed at high levels in the livers of mice and produced a functional agouti protein. Albumin-agouti transgenic mice had normal body weights and normal levels of blood glucose and plasma insulin, but responded to chemical initiation of the liver with an increased number of liver tumors compared to non-transgenic control mice. Conclusions: The data demonstrate that liver-specific expression of the agouti gene is not sufficient to induce obesity or diabetes, but, in the absence of these factors, agouti continues to promote hepatocellular carcinogenesis.« less
  • Synthesis of erythropoietin, the primary humoral regulator or erythropoiesis, in liver and kidney is inducible by anemia or hypoxia. Analysis of human erythropoietin gene expression in transgenic mice revealed that sequences located 6-14 kilobases 5{prime} to the gene direct expression to the kidney, whereas sequences within the immediate 3{prime}-flanking region control hepatocyte-specific expression. Human erythropoietin transcription initiation sites were differentially utilized in liver and kidney. Inducible transgene expression was precisely targeted to peritubular interstitial cells in the renal cortex that synthesize endogenous mouse erythropoietin. These studies demonstrate that multiple erythropoietin gene regulatory elements control cello-type-specific expression and inducibility by amore » fundamental physiologic stimulus, hypoxia.« less
  • A minigene version of the human gene for type II procollagen (COL2AI) was prepared that lacked a large central region containing 12 of the 52 exons and therefore 291 of the 1523 codons of the gene. The construct was modeled after sporadic in-frame deletions of collagen genes that cause synthesis of shortened pro{alpha} chains that associate with normal pro{alpha} chains and thereby cause degradation of the shortened and normal pro{alpha} chains through a process called procollagen suicide. The gene construct was used to prepare five lines of transgenic mice expressing the minigene. A large proportion of the mice expressing themore » minigene developed a phenotype of a chondrodysplasia with dwarfism, short and thick limbs, a short snout, a cranial bulge, a cleft palate, and delayed mineralization of bone. A number of mice died shortly after birth. Microscopic examination of cartilage revealed decreased density and organization of collagen fibrils. In cultured chondrocytes from the transgenic mice, the minigene was expressed as shortened pro{alpha}1(II) chains that were disulfide-linked to normal mouse pro{alpha}1(II) chains. Therefore, the phenotype is probably explained by depletion of the endogenous mouse type II procollagen through the phenomenon of procollagen suicide.« less
  • Transgenic mice expressing the SV40 large T-antigen (T{sup AG}) under the regultory control of the hormone-responsive rat C3(1) prostatein promoter develop unusual bone and cartilage lesions, as well as ectopic bone and cartilage formation. Two lines of transgenic animals have been propagated in which the expression of the transgene in chondrocytes results in a mild to moderate generalized disorganization of cartilage growth which appears to affect multiple tissues, including the trachea, ear pinna and articular cartilage. The epiphyseal plates are also affected with normal architecture of the zones of proliferation and maturation, but marked elongation of the zone of hypertrophy.more » Immunocytochemistry demonstrates that expression of T{sup AG} is limited to the zone of hypertropny in the epiphyseal plates, suggesting that the chondrocytes become hormone-responsive at this particular stage of differentiation. Normal mineralization and trabecular formation in long bone appears to occur. Ectopic bone and cartilage formation occurs in the foot pads of the fore- and hind- feet over the course of several months. This is preceded by proliferation of sweat gland epithelial cells followed by the appearance of nodules of cartilage and bone. The nodules are closely associated with proliferating epithelium but are not contiguous with bony structures normally found in the feet. The roles of BMP`s, growth factors, oncogenes and hormones in the development of these lesions will be presented. These transgenic animals may provide new insights into hormone-responsiveness of chondrocytes, as well as factors involved in the processes of bone and cartilage differentiation and growth. These transgenic animals may serve as a useful model for human heterotopic bone formation.« less
  • Viable yellow (A{sup vy}/a) mice are larger, obese, hyperinsulinemic, more susceptible to cancer, and, on average, shorter lived than their non-yellow siblings. They are epigenetic mosaics ranging from a yellow phenotype with maximum ectopic agouti overexpression, through a continuum of mottled agouti/yellow phenotypes with partial agouti overexpression, to a pseudoagouti phenotype with minimal ectopic expression. Pseudoagouti A{sup vy}/a mice are lean, healthy, and longer lived than their yellow siblings. Here the authors report that feeding pregnant black a/a dams methyl-supplemented diets alters epigenetic regulation of agouti expression in their offspring, as indicated by increased agouti/black mottling in the direction ofmore » the pseudoagouti phenotype. They also present confirmatory evidence that epigenetic phenotypes are maternally heritable. Thus A{sup vy} expression, already known to be modulated by imprinting, strain-specific modification, and maternal epigenetic inheritance, is also modulated by maternal diet. These observations suggest, at least in this special case, that maternal dietary supplementation may positively affect health and longevity of the offspring. Therefore, this experimental system should be useful for identifying maternal factors that modulate epigenetic mechanisms, especially DNA methylation, in developing embryos.« less