Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Missing link detected in insulin mechanism

20.06.2003


Protein could provide clues for understanding type two diabetes



Along the multifaceted insulin pathway, Dartmouth Medical School biochemists have found a missing link that may spark the connection for glucose to move into cells. The discovery is another strand in the remarkable web of molecular signals that regulate traffic through cells and helps elucidate crucial aspects of how the hormone insulin regulates a membrane movement process.

The work is being discussed June 21 at the Endocrine Society meeting in Philadelphia by Dr. Gustav Lienhard, professor of biochemistry, who also reported the results in a recent issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry with colleagues from Dartmouth and Harvard.


Insulin acts to maintain the appropriate level of glucose in the blood. After eating, blood glucose rises, triggering release of insulin from the pancreas to lower the sugar level. One way insulin does that is to accelerate the removal of glucose from blood and into muscle and fat cells. Key aspects of the mechanism for insulin to stimulate this glucose uptake remain to be sorted out.

A conundrum is that muscle and fat cells have proteins known as transporters for ferrying glucose, but these transporters are in the wrong place. Instead of being in the cell’s surface membrane where glucose can climb aboard for passage, they are in vesicles within the cell. So insulin, pressing on a muscle or fat cell, prods these vesicles inside the cell to fuse with the surface membrane, putting the transporters where they can ferry the glucose into the cell. Suddenly the surface membrane has many transporters and glucose can enter the cell rapidly.

Lienhard likens the process to a room with too few doors. "You have a lot of people wanting to get into the room that only has two doors so they would all have to go through these two doors. But inside the room is a stack of doors. People are the glucose molecules and the doors are the transporters; in response to insulin, these doors get shoved into the walls of the room and more people can get into the room quickly."

Lienhard leads a team studying how insulin impinging on the outside of the cell spurs these transporter-containing vesicles to move toward and fuse with the cell surface. It involves linking up two specialized areas of cell biology: cell signaling and membrane trafficking.

Insulin binding to its receptor on the outside of the cell membrane initiates a series of actions. That receptor extends through to the inner surface of the membrane and triggers signaling steps, or a signal transduction pathway, that eventually leads to the vesicle movement and fusion.

The Dartmouth researchers have found a protein that seems to bridge the signaling and membrane movement, a span between the signal transduction pathway and the machinery that controls the fusion of the transporter-containing vesicles with the cell surface.

"That was a missing link in this field. If we’re right, this looks like a key protein that connects signaling to trafficking. At the end of the signal transduction pathway, we found a protein that’s modified by phosphorylation--by putting phosphate groups on it--and this protein also acts on a key protein component in the machinery for vesicle movement and fusion," Lienhard says.

This protein could provide clues for understanding type two diabetes. A hallmark of the illness is insulin resistance: muscle and fat tissues do not respond adequately to insulin. The transporters they need on their cell surface are trapped inside and it takes a higher concentration of insulin to move additional transporters to the cell surface. Lienhard stresses that studies of the protein in diabetic rodent models need to be done.

The findings could also shed light on how hormones regulate movement of membrane proteins in general, Lienhard adds. "The protein has a widespread tissue distribution. It is found in all the major tissues in the body--brain, liver, kidney, so it could function in other systems where a hormone treatment causes the rapid movement of proteins to the cell surface."

The researchers used a cultured fat cell line that originated from mice. Once they found the protein, they were able to identify it by comparing its amino acid sequence to the gene database.

Contact:

Andy Nordhoff
e-mail: dms.communications@dartmouth.edu

Andy Nordhoff | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.dartmouth.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht For a chimpanzee, one good turn deserves another
27.06.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

nachricht New method to rapidly map the 'social networks' of proteins
27.06.2017 | Salk Institute

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>