Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a key role in energy balance. In population studies, SNPs of the BDNF locus have been linked to obesity, but the mechanism by which these variants cause weight gain is unknown. Here, we examined human hypothalamic BDNF expression in association with 44 BDNF SNPs. We observed that the minor C allele of rs12291063 is associated with lower human ventromedial hypothalamic BDNF expression (p < 0.001) and greater adiposity in both adult and pediatric cohorts (p values < 0.05). We further demonstrated that the major T allele for rs12291063 possesses a binding capacity for the transcriptional regulator, heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein D0B, knockdown of which disrupts transactivation by the T allele. Binding and transactivation functions are both disrupted by substituting C for T. These findings provide a rationale for BDNF augmentation as a targeted treatment for obesity in individuals who have the rs12291063 CC genotype. Mou et al. show that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) rs12291063 minor C allele disrupts binding and transactivation by the transcriptional regulator, heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein D0B, and it is associated with lower ventromedial hypothalamic BDNF expression and obesity. BDNF augmentation may be specifically beneficial for treating obesity in individuals with the CC genotype.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)