Pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) is the protein precursor to several physiologically distinct peptide hormones. The POMC gene is expressed in several distinct cell types and appears to be under differential regulation depending upon the cell location. The structure of the POMC gene in human, bovine, rat, and mouse is very similar, suggesting that this particular structure has functional significance. The gene is broken by intervening sequences into a 5′ noncoding region, a signal sequence-coding region, and a peptide hormone-coding region. Middle-repetitive DNA sequences are present in both introns of the genes as well as the 5′-flanking regions in all species studied; this too suggests that this structural element has functional significance. The peptide hormone-coding sequences are well conserved among species, whereas the nonhormonal “spacer” sequences are poorly conserved. Differential regulation of the POMC gene appears to occur by the differential recognition of effector molecules. Although the studies are not complete, all available evidence suggests that there is only a single POMC gene which is expressed in mammalian tissues.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology