Analyzing the Effects of Co-expression of Chick (Gallus gallus) Melanocortin Receptors with either Chick MRAP1 or MRAP2 in CHO Cells on Sensitivity to ACTH(1–24) or ACTH(1–13)NH2: Implications for the Avian HPA Axis and Avian Melanocortin Circuits in the Hypothalamus

Document Type


Publication Date



Gallus gallus, ACTHα-MSH, Melanocortin receptors, MRAP1, MRAP2

Organizational Units

College of Natual Science and Mathematics, Biological Sciences


In order to better understand the roles that melanocortin receptors (cMCRs) and melanocortin-2 receptor accessory proteins (cMRAP1 and cMRAP2) play in the HPA axis and hypothalamus, adrenal gland and hypothalamus mRNA from 1 day-old white leghorn chicks (Gallus gallus), were analyzed by real-time PCR. mRNA was also made for kidney, ovary, and liver. Mrap1 mRNA could be detected in adrenal tissue, but not in any of the other tissues, and mrap2 mRNA was also detected in the adrenal gland. Finally, all five melanocortin receptors mRNAs could be detected in the adrenal gland; mc2r and mc5r mRNAs were the most abundant. To evaluate any potential interactions between MRAP1 and the MCRs that may occur in adrenal cells, individual chick mcr cDNA constructs were transiently expressed in CHO cells either in the presence or absence of a chick mrap1 cDNA, and the transfected cells were stimulated with hACTH(1–24) at concentrations ranging from 10−13 M to 10−6 M. As expected, MC2R required co-expression with MRAP1 for functional expression; whereas, co-expression of cMC3R with cMRAP1 had no statistically significant effect on sensitivity to hACTH(1–24). However, co-expression of MC4R and MC5R with MRAP1, increased sensitivity for ACTH(1–24) by approximately 35 fold and 365 fold, respectively. However, co-expressing of cMRAP2 with these melanocortin receptors had no effect on sensitivity to hACTH(1–24). Since the real-time PCR analysis detected mrap2 mRNA and mc4r mRNA in the hypothalamus, the interaction between cMC4R and cMRAP2 with respect to sensitivity to ACTH(1–13)NH2 stimulation was also evaluated. However, no effect, either positive or negative, was observed. Finally, the highest levels of mc5r mRNA were detected in liver cells. This observation raises the possibility that in one-day old chicks, activation of the HPA axis may also involve a physiological response from liver cells.

Publication Statement

Copyright held by author or publisher. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

This document is currently not available here.