Hypothalamic neurodegeneration and adult-onset obesity in mice lacking the Ubb polyubiquitin gene

Kwon Yul Ryu, Jacob C. Garza, Xin Yun Lu, Gregory S. Barsh, Ron R. Kopito

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Nearly all neurodegenerative diseases are associated with abnormal accumulation of ubiquitin (Ub) conjugates within neuronal inclusion bodies. To directly test the hypothesis that depletion of cellular Ub is sufficient to cause neurodegeneration, we have disrupted Ubb, one of four genes that supply Ub in the mouse. Here, we report that loss of Ubb led to a progressive degenerative disorder affecting neurons within the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. This neurodegenerative cytopathology was accompanied by impaired hypothalamic control of energy balance and adult-onset obesity. Ubb was highly expressed in vulnerable hypothalamic neurons and total Ub levels were selectively reduced in the hypothalamus of Ubb-null mice. These findings demonstrate that maintenance of adequate supplies of cellular Ub is essential for neuronal survival and establish that decreased Ub availability is sufficient to cause neuronal dysfunction and death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4016-4021
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number10
StatePublished - 25 Mar 2008


  • Energy homeostasis
  • Hypothalamus
  • Ubiquitin


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