Detecting sugars in the cell
Every living thing is composed of cells, which communicate with each other and the external world by means of receptor proteins on the cell membrane. These proteins receive signals from outside the cell by binding themselves with particular substances (such as hormones), which then produces a reaction by the cell to regulate processes internal or external to the cell. A number of medicines play on this cellular operation to produce beneficial responses for our health. Now, for the first time, Katleen Lemaire and her colleagues, under the direction of Johan Thevelein of VIB and the Catholic University of Leuven, have discovered receptor proteins in yeast cells that detect and react to glucose and sucrose.
The detection of glucose, the transport sugar in the blood, is of major importance for all the cells in the body. Glucose is not only absorbed and metabolized by the cells - it also regulates many cellular reactions. When too much or too little glucose is present in the blood - as in diabetes, for example - this process can break down. The discovery that receptor proteins react to sugars like glucose is very important to the search for treatments for metabolic diseases. Indeed, these proteins could be good targets for new medicines to compensate for the surplus or shortage of a particular sugar.
Yeast as model for humans
The VIB scientists are conducting their research on yeast proteins. It often turns out t
Contact: Sooike Stoops
VIB, Flanders Interuniversity Institute of Biotechnology