A new study carried out at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has identified a key regulator of insulin sensitivity that could play a part in the development of obesity and diabetes, as well as the ageing process. It is hoped the discovery will lead to new treatments for patients suffering from type 2 diabetes and other health issues that arise from an inability to control blood sugar levels.
The research, which was published in the journal PLoS One, showed that the protein, called TBC1D3, is able to maintain the insulin pathway open so that the cells still take up glucose. It was also found that greater amounts of TBC1D3 impede a feedback loop that usually deactivates the insulin signal into the cell from receptors present on the membrane of the cell.
Senior author, Philip Stahl, commented “When cells made more of the TBC1D3 protein, they had a much bigger response to insulin .”
He added “We found that TBC1D3 significantly slows the deactivation of a molecule that relays signals from the insulin receptor. This enhances the cells’ response to insulin.”
TBC1D3 is one of the most duplicated genes in the human body, present up to 50 times in our DNA, and the scientists are exploring what factors regulate the activity of the gene.

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