March 6, 2009

Aliquots — research highlights from VMC laboratories


Liver target for diabetes

The liver – which both produces and takes up glucose – plays a significant role in controlling blood glucose and, consequently, the development of diabetes. Glucokinase (GK), a liver enzyme that regulates blood glucose levels, is considered an important target for drugs to treat type 2 diabetes. Previously, Masakazu Shiota DVM, Ph.D., and colleagues showed that early diabetic changes in male Zucker diabetic fatty rats – a model of obesity-related type 2 diabetes – were associated with impaired regulation of GK.

In the January issue of Diabetes, the researchers show that GK expression in the liver progressively decreases as diabetes progresses in these rats – GK activity was only 30 percent of normal at 20 weeks of age. Using a gene therapy approach, they show that normalizing liver GK restores plasma glucose to near normal levels. The results suggest that maintaining GK activity in the liver – either by gene therapy or pharmaceutical intervention – could represent a therapeutic approach to regulating glucose levels in type 2 diabetes.

Melissa Marino


Heartbeat clues from worms

The potassium channel HERG plays a key role in maintaining the rhythmic heartbeat. Mutations in the HERG gene, or drugs that block the channel, can cause long QT syndrome (LQTS) and life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias.

Journal of Molecular and Cellular Cardiology

Leigh MacMillan


Kidney fix-it factor

Acute kidney injury – from exposure to chemotherapy or immunosuppressive drugs, for example – is common, but the mechanisms of injury and repair are poorly understood.

Journal of the American Society of Nephrology

Leigh MacMillan


p120’s ROCKing role in tumor cells

In the Feb. 9 Journal of Cell Biology, they report that p120 loss blocks Rac1- and Src-induced AIG by suppressing a key signaling pathway (RhoA-ROCK pathway). H-ras induced AIG was not affected by p120 loss. However, all three oncogenes depended on ROCK suppression, suggesting that ROCK may act as a gatekeeper for activities essential for AIG, and therefore, tumor development. The results demonstrate for the first time a clear requirement for p120 in oncogene-mediated tumorigenesis.

Melissa Marino


We welcome suggestions for research to highlight in Aliquots. The items should be primary research articles (no reviews, editorials or commentaries) published within the last two months in a peer-reviewed journal. Please send the article citation (PDF if available) and any other feedback about the column to:

Past Aliquots

June 22, 2012
June 8, 2012
May 11, 2012
April 27, 2012
April 13, 2012
March 30, 2012
March 16, 2012