Targeting one enzyme could treat cancer, diabetes, and obesity

by: Catharine Paddock PhD Fact checked by Jasmin Collier

The uncovering of the molecular acrobatics of a key cell enzyme could lead to new treatments for cancer and metabolic diseases such as obesity and diabetes.

The cell enzyme is called PI3KC2A, and though scientists knew that it controlled many crucial cell functions, they remained unsure of the detailed structural mechanisms.

One thing they did know was that the enzyme controls what occurs at cell membranes when they receive external signals.

They also knew that it controls how the signals affect vital processes inside the cell.

These processes regulate, among other things, how cells grow, divide, and differentiate.

Now, a new paper that features in the journal Molecular Cell describes for the first time how the cell enzyme changes from an inactive state inside the cell to an active state in the cell membrane.

The researchers, from the Leibniz-Forschungsinstitut für Molekulare Pharmakologie (FMP) in Berlin, Germany, together with colleagues at the University of Geneva in Switzerland, have been investigating PI3KC2A for some time.

Their new work reveals previously unknown facts about a crucial cell mechanism called “receptor uptake.” Disruptions of processes involving this mechanism are implicated in diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders.

One of the senior study authors, Prof. Volker Haucke, of the FMP, says that their findings “may provide a direct target for therapies.”

Cell membranes are dynamic systems

Cell membranes do a lot more than hold cell contents together. If that was all they did, they would be no more than inert skins; but a closer look reveals that they are dynamic systems that tightly control the passage of chemicals in and out of the cell.

The structure of a cell membrane has been described as a “sea of lipids” containing floating clusters of proteins that control the “selective permeability” of the membrane…..

Read more:

Image: Medical News Today