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Functional dimorphism of two hAgRP promoter SNPs in linkage disequilibrium
  1. F Bai1,
  2. T Rankinen1,
  3. C Charbonneau1,
  4. D D Belsham2,
  5. D C Rao3,
  6. C Bouchard1,
  7. G Argyropoulos1
  1. 1Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA
  2. 2Department of Physiology, Division of Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto Hospital Research Institute, Toronto, Ont., Canada M5S 1A8
  3. 3Division of Biostatistics and Departments of Genetics and Psychiatry, Washington University Medical School, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 G Argyropoulos, PhD
 Pennington Biomedical Research Center, 6400 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70808, USA;


The agouti related protein (AgRP) exerts its anabolic effects on food intake by antagonising the alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone (α-MSH) at its receptors, melanocortin receptors 3 and 4 (MC3R and MC4R). A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the promoter of the human AgRP (hAgRP), −38C>T, was associated with low body fatness. The −38T allele that was associated with low body fatness also resulted in lower promoter activity. Here we report a novel SNP, −3019G>A, again in the promoter of hAgRP, which is in complete linkage disequilibrium (LD) with the −38C>T SNP (linked alleles: −3019A/−38T and −3019G/−38C). Functional analyses in a human adrenal and two mouse hypothalamus cell lines showed that the −3019A allele had significantly higher promoter activity. Hence, the two linked alleles (−3019A and −38T) had opposite effects on promoter function and yet they were both associated with low body fatness. The region encompassing the −38C>T SNP had approximately 1000-fold higher activity than the region encompassing the −3019G>A SNP, potentially determining the net functional effect between these two SNPs.

  • AgRP
  • linkage
  • obesity
  • promoter
  • SNP
  • AgRP, agouti related protein
  • α-MSH, alpha-melanocyte stimulating hormone
  • LD, linkage disequilibrium
  • MC3R and MC4R, melanocortin receptors 3 and 4
  • SNP, single nucleotide polymorphism
  • UCP1, uncoupling protein 1

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  • This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Diabetes, and Digestive, and Kidney Diseases (grant DK62156, to GA). Denise Belsham is supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. The HERITAGE Family Study is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute through grants HL45670 (to CB) and HL47317 (to DCR). Claude Bouchard is partially supported by the George A. Bray Chair in Nutrition.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.