Researchers from the University of Michigan isolated mRNA from mouse hypothalamic and brainstem LepRb cells by Translating Ribosome Affinity Purification (TRAP) and analyzed it by RNA-seq (TRAP-seq).
Leptin acts via its receptor (LepRb) on multiple subpopulations of LepRb neurons in the brain, each of which controls specific aspects of energy balance. Despite the importance of LepRb-containing neurons, the transcriptome and molecular identity of many LepRb subpopulations remain undefined due to the difficulty of studying the small fraction of total cells represented by LepRb neurons in heterogeneous brain regions.
TRAP mRNA from LepRb cells was enriched for markers of peptidergic neurons, while TRAP-depleted mRNA from non-LepRb cells was enriched for markers of glial and immune cells. Genes encoding secreted proteins that were enriched in hypothalamic and brainstem TRAP mRNA revealed subpopulations of LepRb neurons that contained neuropeptide-encoding genes (including prodynorphin, Pdyn) not previously used as functional markers for LepRb neurons. Furthermore, Pdyn (cre) -mediated ablation of Lepr (flox) in Pdyn-expressing neurons (LepRb (Pdyn) KO mice) blunted energy expenditure to promote obesity during high-fat feeding.