The ventral hypothalamus acts to integrate visceral and systemic information to control energy balance. The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor neurogenin-3 (Ngn3) is required for pancreatic β-cell development and has been implicated in neuronal development in the hypothalamus. Here, we demonstrate that early embryonic hypothalamic inactivation of Ngn3 (also known as Neurog3)in mice results in rapid post-weaning obesity that is associated with hyperphagia and reduced energy expenditure. This obesity is caused by loss of expression of Pomc in Pomc- and Cart-expressing (Pomc/Cart) neurons in the arcuate nucleus, indicating an incomplete specification of anorexigenic first order neurons. Furthermore, following the onset of obesity, both the arcuate and ventromedial hypothalamic nuclei become insensitive to peripheral leptin treatment. This conditional mouse mutant therefore represents a novel model system for obesity that is associated with hyperphagia and underactivity, and sheds new light upon the roles of Ngn3 in the specification of hypothalamic neurons controlling energy balance.
- Received January 22, 2013.
- Accepted April 24, 2013.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0), which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium provided that the original work is properly cited and all further distributions of the work or adaptation are subject to the same Creative Commons License terms.