Molecular cloning and expression of leptin in gray and harbor seal blubber, bone marrow, and lung and its potential role in marine mammal respiratory physiology

John A. Hammond, Kimberley A. Bennett, Michael J. Walton, Ailsa J. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Leptin is a multifunctional hormone, produced predominantly in adipocytes. It regulates energy balance through its impact on appetite and fat metabolism, and its concentration indicates the size of body fat reserves. Leptin also plays a vital role in stretch-induced surfactant production during alveolar development in the fetus. The structure, expression pattern, and role of leptin have not previously been explored in marine mammals. Phocid seals undergo cyclical changes in body composition as a result of prolonged fasting and intensive foraging bouts and experience rapid, dramatic, and repeated changes in lung volume during diving. Here, we report the tissue-specific expression pattern of leptin in these animals. This is the first demonstration of leptin expression in the lung tissue of a mature mammal, in addition to its expression in the blubber and bone marrow, in common with other animals. We propose a role for leptin in seal pulmonary surfactant production, in addition to its likely role in long-term energy balance. We identify substitutions in the phocine leptin sequence in regions normally highly conserved between widely distinct vertebrate groups, and, using a purified seal leptin antiserum, we confirm the presence of the leptin protein in gray seal lung and serum fractions. Finally, we report the substantial inadequacies of using heterologous antibodies to measure leptin in unextracted gray seal serum.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)545-553
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2005


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