Secret protein proves good aid against type-2 diabetes

The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology

A team of scientists from the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) here have found the role of protein secretagogin (SCGN) in increasing insulin action in obesity-induced diabetes, called as type-2 diabetes. Diabetes is one of the most rampant diseases worldwide affecting millions every year, with more than 60 million affected in India alone. It is a metabolic disorder with a defect in insulin production, secretion or action which consequently results in high blood glucose levels.

Various kinds of cellular stresses can result in loss of structure and function of insulin, ultimately leading to diabetes. At present, the processes regulating insulin synthesis, maturation, secretion and signalling in diabetes are not completely understood.

Dr Yogendra Sharma and his colleagues, Anand Sharma, Radhika Khandelwal and Amrutha Chidananda have demonstrated that SCGN binds to insulin, and protects it from various stresses, increases its stability and adds to its action.

CCMB scientists have shown an injection of SCGN (found at lower levels in diabetic patients) in obese diabetic mice clears excess insulin from circulation and reduces fat mass. SCGN-treated animals also had lower levels of harmful LDL-cholesterol and lower lipid accumulation in liver cells.

These findings, published in the latest issue of the journal Science, establish SCGN as a functional insulin-binding protein with therapeutic potential against diabetes.

Diabetes and neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are often linked with each other. SCGN is found in lower quantities in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. In a parallel study also recently published in Biochemistry, Dr Sharma’s group has also shown SCGN’s role in preventing the formation of alpha-synuclein protein fibrils—a precursor for many neurodegenerative diseases. Dr Sharma says, “SCGN would soon become a diagnostic marker, and one should check its potential in diabetes management.”

“While studying calcium-binding properties of SCGN, CCMB scientists have discovered a novel function of this protein in diabetes biology, yet another example of how quality basic science can lead to valuable applications,” says Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, and CCMB.

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