CHICAGO, Oct. 17 (Xinhua) -- A study at the University of Chicago (UChicago) found a link between the process that handles glucose in cells and the one that regulates detoxification, suggesting a new understanding of a fundamental function in human bodies, and one that may provide new insights into disorders from cancer to diabetes.
The study was published on October 15 in Nature.
Using a combination of techniques, the researchers found that KEAP1, the key protein that triggers a cell' s detoxification process, is actually activated to action by a buildup of glucose in the cell. "It looks very clearly like KEAP1 is listening to glucose metabolism, and turning on detox mechanisms as a result," said Raymond Moellering, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry at UChicago.
The researchers showed that when KEAP1 is exposed to a molecule that is produced during the breakdown of glucose, individual KEAP1 proteins join up in pairs, which then triggers a waterfall of other signals in the cell to begin detoxification mechanisms.
This particular pathway is a clue to understanding all kinds of disorders, as detoxification is such an important role in the cell, Moellering said.
The study also shows that the cell protects itself from damage by triggering detoxification via glucose metabolism. But pushing this signal too far could lead to damage that exceeds the capacity of the clean-up crew.
The discovery opens new therapeutic possibilities, Moellering said.