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Discovery of new enzyme essential for the understanding of the glycogen mechanism in mammals


A team of researchers at the Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology & Natural Resources, together with the Japanese pharmaceutical company, JCR Pharmaceuticals, have discovered an enzyme which could be fundamental in the metabolism of glycogen in mammals. This find may be the first step in the finding a cure for illnesses associated with metabolic disorders such as certain kinds of diabetes and cancer. The characterisation and identification of the gene that its codes has been recently published in an article in Biochemical Journal.

The research at the Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology & Natural Resources into the metabolism of starch in plants has inspired, amongst others, a series of studies aimed at a better understanding of the equivalent substance in bacteria and animals, i.e. glycogen.

Previously, the team led by Javier Pozueta Romero had managed to identify an enzyme which impedes the production of starch in plants and which was given the name ADP-glucose pyrophosphatase. This time the research team has identified this enzyme which specifically recognises UDP glucose, a molecule essential for life, given that it is necessary for the synthesis of glycogen, glycoproteins and glycolipids. According to the researchers, ADP-glucose pyrophosphatase would be the enzyme responsible for regulating levels of the UDP glucose needed for the formation of glycogen in animals.

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