Orexin-A and -B are recently identified potent orexigenic peptides that are derived from the same precursor peptide and are highly specifically localized in neurons located in the lateral hypothalamic area, a region classically implicated in feeding behavior. We cloned the whole length of the human prepro-orexin gene and corresponding cDNA. The human prepro-orexin mRNA was predicted to encode a 131-residue precursor peptide (prepro-orexin). The human prepro-orexin gene consists of two exons and one intron distributed over 1432 base pairs. The 143-base pair first exon includes the 5'- untranslated region and a small part of the coding region that encodes the first seven residues of the secretory signal sequence. The second exon contains the remaining portion of the open reading frame and 3'-untranslated region. The 3.2 kilobase pairs of the 5'-upstream region from a cloned human prepro-orexin gene promoter is sufficient to direct the expression of the Escherichia coli β-galactosidase (lacZ) gene in transgenic mice to neurons in the lateral hypothalamic area and adjacent regions. The lacZ-positive neurons were positively stained with anti-orexin antibody but not with anti- melanin-concentrating hormone antibody. These findings suggest that this genomic fragment contains all the necessary elements for appropriate expression of the gene and will be useful for the targeted expression of the exogenous gene in orexin-containing neurons. These mice might also be useful for examining the molecular mechanisms by which orexin gene expression is regulated.
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