Neuropeptide Y (NPY) has been implicated in the control of food intake and energy balance based on many observations in animals. We have studied single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the regulatory and coding sequences of the human NPY gene. One variant (1128 T>C), which causes an amino acid change from leucine to proline at codon 7 in the signal peptide of NPY, was associated with increased body mass index (BMI) in two separate Swedish populations of normal and overweight individuals. In vitro transcription and translation studies indicated the unlikelihood that this signal peptide variation affects the site of cleavage and targeting or uptake of NPY into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). However, the mutant, and to a lesser extent the wild-type, signal peptide by themselves markedly potentiated NPY-induced food intake, as well as hypothalamic NPY receptor signaling. Our findings in humans strongly indicate that the NPY signaling system is implicated in body weight regulation and suggest a new and unexpected functional role of a signal peptide.
- Neuropeptide Y
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