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Research into PKA enzyme adds another step towards understanding diabetes

Researchers have investigated how protein kinase A (PKA), an enzyme involved in choosing when and how much insulin is released by the pancreas, acts within the body.
A team at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, used biosensors to observe how PKA behaved. The biosensors are amino acids which fluoresce in one colour when a particular protein is ‘turned on’ and a different colour when ‘turned off’.
The biosensors were attached to pancreatic beta cells to measure how the beta cells responded to PKA. It was previously known that calcium levels in beta cells oscillate, so the researchers were intrigued to find that the response to PKA oscillated in tune with the change in calcium levels.
The cell response to PKA in non-beta cells has been found to vary over a matter of tens of minutes whereas in the pancreatic cells, the variation was quicker at about 3 cycles every ten minutes.
Whilst the research provides no immediate route towards a diabetic treatment, understanding how beta cells respond to protein activity adds another piece to the jigsaw of how the body regulates blood sugar levels, and can help to determine the direction of future research into diabetes .

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