Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) is the polypeptide precursor of ACTH. First discovered in anterior pituitary corticotroph cells, it has more recently been revealed to have many other physiological aspects. The fine molecular mechanisms of ACTH biosynthesis show that ACTH is but one piece of a puzzle which contains many other peptides. Present in various tIssues, among which are pituitary, hypothalamus, central nervous system and skin, POMC undergoes extensive post-translational processing. This processing is tIssue-specific and generates, depending on the case, various sets of peptides involved in completely diverse biological functions. POMC expressed in corticotroph cells of the pituitary is necessary for adrenal function. Recent developments have shown that POMC-expressing neurons in the brain play a major role in the control of pain and energy homeostasis. Local production of POMC-derived peptides in skin may influence melanogenesis. A still unknown function in the placenta is likely.POMC has become a paradigmatic polypeptide precursor model illustrating the variable roles of a single gene and its various products in different localities.
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