2 October October 2018 Diabetes Research Center Update October 2, 2018 By The Fraternal Order of Eagles Diabetes Research Center 0 Ryan Boudreau, PhD, Assistant Professor in the Division of Cardiology in the Department of Internal Medicine and a member of the FOEDRC recently discovered a new protein-coding gene in the human genome that regulates mitochondria. These studies were simultaneously published in the Journal Cell Reports at the same time as a study from a laboratory at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center that made a similar discovery. The human genome (i.e. our DNA) is an extremely vast spatial set of “letters” (A,C,G, and T – a mere four DNA bases) that are orderly-fashioned to encode vital instructions for our biological make-up and function. The sequencing of the human genome has fueled vigorous research to decipher the meaning of this complex code. The traditionally accepted role of our DNA is to produce RNA intermediates encoding the thousands of proteins that serve as our cellular building blocks and effectors; however, <5% of our genomic landscape consists of protein-coding genes, leaving us to wonder, “what is the purpose of the remaining ‘junk’ DNA?” Although many studies have demonstrated the importance of this “extra” genomic space in precisely controlling when, where, and how much of certain protein-coding RNAs are made within our cells and throughout our bodies, recent data shows that much of this DNA gives rise to thousands of uncharacterized RNAs, termed long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). While querying the functional significance of muscle-, heart-, and brain-enriched lncRNAs, Boudreau’s lab and others have discovered that several do actually encode for small proteins (i.e. microproteins) that have largely been overlooked due to misconceptions regarding how big proteins must be to elicit meaningful biological functions. Their team discovered a previously unknown microprotein that they named mitoregulin. This protein localizes to mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses that make the energy needed to support virtually all biological functions. Dr. Boudreau and his team found that mitoregulin “tunes up” mitochondria by improving the assembly and organization of mitochondrial protein complexes (i.e. the energy factory) and increases mitochondrial efficiency. In addition, they reduce the release from mitochondria of toxic byproducts known as reactive oxygen species that induce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress plays an important role in causing many of diseases associated with aging including diabetes. Moving forward, Dr. Boudreau and his team is focusing on better defining mitoregulin’s precise molecular function (i.e. how it works) and how alterations in mitoregulin levels in people may influence the many diseases in which mitochondria become dysfunctional (e.g. diabetes, heart failure, and Parkinson’s disease). Dr. Boudreau’s discovery and future work, lays important groundwork that could lead to new therapeutic approaches for treating disorders such as diabetes that are associated with mitochondrial dysfunction. Related Articles American Diabetes Association Supports FOEDRC Researchers DRC Director's Report - January 2018 Three researchers from the FOEDRC received new grants from the American Diabetes Association for groundbreaking research. The ability of our members to receive these competitive awards is truly remarkable and underscores the quality and rigor of the research that is being conducted in the FOEDRC. There are few institutions that received multiple awards in this current round of ADA funding. The awards to Drs. Ling Yang, Rajan Sah and Adam Rauckhorst are summarized below. DRC Researchers Publish Major Breakthrough In Understanding How Diabetes Induces Eye Damage In the retina, diabetes damages nerves before it damages blood vessels. Diabetes is a major risk factor for severe vision loss and blindness. A condition known as retinal diabetic neuropathy causes visual impairment through the degeneration of small nerves (neurons) in light-sensitive tissue called the retina, which lines the back of the eye. Technology Developed By DRC Researcher Could Preserve Vision for Diabetes Patients University of Iowa Health Care patients are the first in the nation to have access to a new technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to diagnose diabetic retinopathy. 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This position has been endowed by the Fraternal Order of Eagles (FOE) to propel and accelerate the pace of discoveries in the FOE Diabetes Research Center (FOEDRC), whose mission is to advance knowledge of the mechanisms of diabetes and its related complications through cutting-edge research. How Diabetes Harms The Heart Study in mice involving FOEDRC researchers, reveals heart-damaging pathway triggered by insulin, identifies possible drug targets to prevent or treat heart failure. Diabetes is hard on the heart. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in people with diabetes, and risk for heart failure—where the heart can’t pump enough blood—is two to three times higher in men and up to five times higher in women with diabetes compared to people without diabetes. Showing 0 Comment Comments are closed.