The Tissue-Specific Processing of Pro-Opiomelanocortin

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It is just over 30 years since the definitive identification of the adrenocorticotrophin (ACTH) precursor, pro-opiomelanocotin (POMC). Although first characterised in the anterior and intermediate lobes of the pituitary, POMC is also expressed in a number of both central and peripheral tissues including the skin, central nervous tissue and placenta. Following synthesis, POMC undergoes extensive post-translational processing producing not only ACTH, but also a number of other biologically active peptides. The extent and pattern of this processing is tissue-specific, the end result being the tissue dependent production of different combinations of peptides from the same precursor. These peptides have a diverse range of biological roles ranging from pigmentation to adrenal function to the regulation of feeding. This level of complexity has resulted in POMC becoming the archetypal model for prohormone processing, illustrating how a single protein combined with post-translational modification can have a diverse number of roles.

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