Scientists have identified a key mechanism used by the body to stop cells from dying, which could determine the onset of type 2 diabetes, Alzheimers disease, Parkinson’s, and other diseases associated with ageing.
The research, conducted at the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), was published in Cell Reports, and potentially sheds new light on the development of type 2 diabetes.
The study focuses on a regulator called Rheb, which is understood to both inhibit and accelerate protein synthesis, which is an important process that allows the body to continue to adapt, grow and develop.
Srinivasa Subramaniam, assistant professor at TSRI and lead author of the study, explained, “We found Rheb acts like the gas pedal in a car. It can either increase translation or decrease it. And because translation is a fundamental process that is affected in a lot of diseases, we not think that Rheb may act like a switch in some disease states – helping to turn them off and on.”
When under stress, Rheb inhibits protein synthesis rather than accelerating it. This kind of inhibition is associated with several diseases, including type 2 diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
Neelam Shahani, a member of the lab, said, “Rheb can inhibit protein synthesis, and we know that protein misfolding via environmental stress factors is present in a lot of diseases.”

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