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Leptin found to control appetite and limb development in frogs

growth and development.

Denver's study showed that there are receptors in the tadpole's waiting limbs that crank up cell division when leptin signals are received. "This hormone sets the stage for growth, both signaling to the brain that there are sufficient energy stores and perhaps directly promoting tissue growth and development." The timing of metamorphosis in frogs is central to their survival, Denver said. If tadpoles metamorphose too soon they are at a body size disadvantage with little fat reserves. They pay the cost of immediate survival by being more prone to drying out, to being eaten by predators and reaching sexual maturity at a later age. Denver speculates that leptin is probably important to gauge whether the tadpole has adequate energy reserves---in the form of body fat - to start metamorphosis at an appropriate time.

Finding leptin in the Xenopus genome was no small feat. The sequence for the "obese" gene that makes leptin is quite different between frogs and humans, so Denver's lab had some puzzles to solve to successfully clone the frog gene. But once they solved those issues and put the gene into E. coli bacteria to make quantities of leptin, the frog protein turned out to be functionally very similar to the human version, Denver notes.

"It would appear that leptin and its role as an energy balance indicator has been around a long time," Denver said. "Leptin's other roles in animal development are just beginning to be understood."


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Source:University of Michigan


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