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A Hamann, H Munzberg, P Buttron, B Busing, A Hinney, H Mayer, W Siegfried, J Hebebrand and H Greten

The peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma2 (PPARgamma2) is almost uniquely expressed in adipose tissue and is of major importance for fat cell differentiation and lipid metabolism. This study was undertaken to assess whether two missense variants in the PPARgamma2 gene are associated with early-onset obesity. A previously described polymorphism encoding for an amino acid exchange in codon 12 (Pro12Ala) was detected with allele frequencies of 0.13 in 296 markedly obese children and adolescents and 0.14 in 130 lean individuals. A Pro115Gln variant, which had been linked to obesity in Germans in a previous association study, was not detected in any of our obese or lean subjects, who are also of German origin. We conclude from our data that these two variants in the PPARgamma2 gene are unlikely to contribute to the high prevalence of early-onset obesity.

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A Hamann, C Brieske, J Tafel, P Buttron, B Schwarzloh, H Munzberg, A Hinney, H Mayer, W Siegfried, J Hebebrand, H Greten, P Algenstaedt and R Ziegler

OBJECTIVE: The alpha(2)-adrenergic receptors are involved in the effects of catecholamines on energy metabolism. Of three known subtypes with differential expression, alpha(2A)-adrenergic receptors are also localized in adipose tissue where they counteract the lipolytic activity of beta-adrenergic receptors. This study was undertaken to assess whether variants in the alpha(2A)-adrenergic receptor gene are associated with body weight. DESIGN AND METHODS: Single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) screening and subsequent sequencing were applied to determine genetic variants in DNA samples from individuals with obesity, those of normal weight and those underweight. RESULTS: Analysis of the coding region resulted in the identification of an 18 bp deletion, with no other mutation found. Of 429 genotyped subjects, 7 carried the deletion, with no significant differences between lean and obese subjects. A previously identified polymorphism in the promoter of the alpha(2A)-adrenergic receptor gene also did not show an association with any of the tested body weight categories. CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that variants in the alpha(2A)-adrenergic receptor gene are unlikely to contribute to the predisposition for the lean or obese state.

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Anne-Kathrin Wermter, Kathrin Reichwald, Thomas Büch, Frank Geller, Cornelia Platzer, Klaus Huse, Claudia Hess, Helmut Remschmidt, Thomas Gudermann, Gerald Preibisch, Wolfgang Siegfried, Hans-Peter Goldschmidt, Wei-Dong Li, R Arlen Price, Heike Biebermann, Heiko Krude, Caren Vollmert, H-Erich Wichmann, Thomas Illig, Thorkild I A Sørensen, Arne Astrup, Lesli Hingstrup Larsen, Oluf Pedersen, Delphine Eberlé, Karine Clément, John Blundell, Martin Wabitsch, Helmut Schäfer, Matthias Platzer, Anke Hinney and Johannes Hebebrand

Objective: The importance of the melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) system for regulation of energy homeostasis and body weight has been demonstrated in rodents. We analysed the human MCH receptor 1 gene (MCHR1) with respect to human obesity.

Design: This consisted of genomic screening of 13.4 kb encompassing the MCHR1 in extremely obese German children and adolescents and association analyses for two coding single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). To confirm initial positive association results, additional association studies and transmission disequilibrium tests in further German, Danish, French and American samples were conducted. Selected SNPs were investigated using functional in vitro studies and reporter gene assays.

Methods: Single-stranded conformation polymorphism analysis, re-sequencing, PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses, tetra-primer amplification refractory mutation systems, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time of flight mass spectrometry and reporter gene assays were carried out as well as measuring inositol phosphate formation, inhibition of cAMP formation and activation of p42/44 MAP kinase.

Results: We identified 11 infrequent variations and two SNPs in the MCHR1 coding sequence and 18 SNPs (eight novel) in the flanking sequence. Association and transmission disequilibrium with obesity were detected for several SNPs in independent study groups of German obese children and adolescents and controls. In two German samples, encompassing 4056 and 295 individuals, trends towards association with obesity were detected. Findings in a second epidemiological German sample and in Danish, French and American samples were negative. Functional in vitro studies as well as reporter gene assays revealed no significant results.

Conclusion: Our initial association of MCHR1 alleles/haplotype detected might be related to juvenile-onset obesity, conditional on a particular genetic and/or environmental background. Alternatively, we could not exclude the possibility that the initially detected association represented a false positive finding.