Almost every sixth human worldwide suffers from diabetes, obesity or both. Interestingly, genetic differences can only explain a proportion of cases. A second, more enigmatic regulatory system seems to play a central role in the development of the disease: so-called ‘epi’genetic regulation.
PhD student Tess Lu and the Freiburg scientist J. Andrew Pospisilik from the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics found evidence that type-2 diabetes may result in part from insulin cells that lose their epigenetic memory, and thus, their function. For upcoming studies, Pospisilik was awarded with a Rising Star award at the conference of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona.
Epigenetic regulation determines gene activity in different cell types and acts as a kind of cell-type specific memory. This epigenetic memory can be modified by external factors such as diet and stress. At the same time it can remain conserved throughout many cell divisions and even generations.
In 2012, researchers unraveled a long overseen mechanism for how we develop type-2 diabetes. Rather than dying, or shutting down function, insulin producing beta-cells seemed to be “forgetting” their fate and reverting towards a more stem cell like identity. Although this idea is new, the Pospisilik group was able to recreate this unique disease pathology by controlling epigenetic state. This finding will help enable researchers around the world to investigate the new diabetes form in great detail.
The Freiburg researchers switched off the gene for an epigenetic regulator previously shown to control entire programs of cellular identity. Animals with this modification were first healthy and developed normal insulin producing cells. But at around middle-age, the cells forgot their function and the animals could not control their blood sugar anymore. The researchers did not find any hints for inflammations, cell death or cell proliferation, leaving behind ‘ghost-like’ cells with no clear markers of their former selves.
With the “rising star” award, Pospisilik aims to investigate the epigenetic profile of individual cells and find out, which epigenetic alterations in detail are involved in diabetes development. The research group will combine cellular, biochemical and analytic methods and the new data will be easily accessible for other researchers through an open access platform.
“These studies will give the diabetes community some first insights into how epigenetic profiles remain stable and why insulin producing cells forget their function,” says Pospisilik. “The research is suited to make an important contribution to fundamental concepts such as stem cell differentiation. At the same time, the research will lead to a deeper understanding of a disease that affects millions of people. It may even open new therapeutic strategies.”
J. Andrew Pospisilik was born in 1976 in Vancouver. Since 2010, he leads his own laboratory at the Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics in Freiburg.Contact:
Dr Harald Rösch | idw
Lasagni awarded with Materials Science and Technology Prize 2017
09.10.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Werkstoff- und Strahltechnik IWS
Eduard Arzt receives highest award from German Materials Society
21.09.2017 | INM - Leibniz-Institut für Neue Materialien gGmbH
University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event
On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...
Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.
Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....
Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).
When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...
Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.
How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.
It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...
17.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
10.10.2017 | Event News
20.10.2017 | Information Technology
20.10.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.10.2017 | Interdisciplinary Research