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Identification of functional leptin receptors expressed in ventricular mitochondria

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Leptin is a 16 kDa pro-satiety peptide produced primarily not only by white adipocytes but also by numerous other tissues including the heart. Circulating leptin exerts its effect through specific receptors, although its principle actions are dependent on the activation of the long form of the leptin receptor, termed OBRb. As leptin is also produced within the cardiomyocyte, we hypothesized that the peptide can also exert effects by targeting intracellular sites. Accordingly, we determined whether cardiac mitochondria express functional leptin receptors. The presence of mitochondrial OBRb was identified through Western blotting of isolated mitochondria, immunofluorescence as well as immunogold labeling with electron microscopy. Although leptin had no direct effect on mitochondrial integrity, it profoundly enhanced the ability of calcium to induce mitochondrial swelling, an effect partially reversed by an OBR antagonist. 24 h exposure to leptin (50 ng/ml) was without effect on mitochondria in cultured neonatal rat ventricular myocytes in contrast to leptin tagged with a 10 amino acid membrane translocation sequence which significantly induced mitochondrial permeability transition pore opening, whereas both leptins produced a hypertrophic response. Our results therefore show that mitochondria express functional OBR which may be of importance toward understanding the role of intracellularly derived leptin in cardiac physiology and pathology.

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This work was supported by a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (MOP 62764). M Karmazyn holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Experimental Cardiology.

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Correspondence to Morris Karmazyn.

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Martinez-Abundis, E., Rajapurohitam, V., Gertler, A. et al. Identification of functional leptin receptors expressed in ventricular mitochondria. Mol Cell Biochem 408, 155–162 (2015).

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