[Frontiers in Bioscience 18, 740-747, January 1, 2013]

Role of homeobox genes in the hypothalamic development and energy balance

Takao Kaji1, Katsunori Nonogaki1

1Department of Lifestyle Medicine, Translational Research Center, Tohoku University Hospital, 1-1 Seiryo-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8574, Japan


1. Abstract
2. Introduction
3. Homeobox genes in the brain
3.3. Bsx
4. Genetic ablation of NPY/AgRP and POMC
5. Summary and Perspective
6. Acknowledgements
7. References


Homeobox genes contribute to the regionalization, patterning and cell differentiation during embryogenesis and organ development. During mammalian embryonic development, homeobox genes, including orthopedia (Otp), a brain-specific homeobox transcription factor (Bsx) and a thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1), are expressed in the hypothalamus. The genetic ablation of these genes indicated that Otp and TTF-1 are essential for the normal morphological development of the hypothalamus, including the arcuate nucleus (ARC), whereas Bsx is not required. In the adult stage, Bsx and TTF-1 continue to be expressed in the hypothalamus, including the ARC, and serve as transcription factors of neuropeptide Y and agouti-related protein. The expression of hypothalamic Bsx and TTF-1 can be altered by the feeding state and appetite regulatory hormones such as ghrelin and leptin. Although Bsx and TTF-1 are essential for normal feeding behavior in adult mice, they exert different effects on the expression of hypothalamic pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and body weight homeostasis. Thus, the hypothalamic homeobox genes may contribute to the dissociation of food intake and body weight via AgRP-POMC neurons.