A Molecular Link Between Type 2 Diabetes and Some Psychiatric Disorders

New research in The FASEB Journal suggests that prevalent protein found in schizophrenia also plays a direct role in the function of pancreatic beta cells, which produce insulin to maintain blood sugar levels.

There may be a genetic connection between some mental health disorders and type 2 diabetes. In a new report appearing in the February 2016 issue of The FASEB Journal, scientists show that a gene called “DISC1,” which is believed to play a role in mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and some forms of depression, influences the function of pancreatic beta cells which produce insulin to maintain normal blood glucose levels.

“Studies exploring the biology of disease have increasingly identified the involvement of unanticipated proteins–DISC1 fits this category,” said Rita Bortell, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Diabetes Center of Excellence at the Universityof Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts. “Our hope is that the association we’ve found linking disrupted DISC1 to both diabetes and psychiatric disorders may uncover mechanisms to improve therapies, even preventative ones, to alleviate suffering caused by both illnesses which are extraordinarily costly, very common, often quite debilitating.”

“Beyond the brain: disrupted in schizophrenia 1 regulates pancreatic β-cell function via glycogen synthase kinase-3β” by Agata Jurczyk, Anetta Nowosielska, Natalia Przewozniak, Ken-Edwin Aryee, Philip DiIorio, David Blodgett, Chaoxing Yang, Martha Campbell-Thompson, Mark Atkinson, Leonard Shultz, Ann Rittenhouse, David Harlan, Dale Greiner, and Rita Bortell in FASEB Journal. Published online February 2016 doi:10.1096/fj.15-279810

Yeast Feast

This bustling yeast colony is the ultimate example of giving back to the community. Artificial fluorescent proteins act like beacons showing which yeast cells are producing histidine (blue), leucine (green) and methionine (red). These are metabolites, chemical food that yeast often produce for themselves but also, as researchers found, offer to their neighbours. Over generations yeast randomly lose the ability to produce different metabolites (due to genetic changes) – this colony has become a bit like a busy market as yeast cells trade different metabolites to survive. Only a lucky few are producing their own red, green and blue-coloured metabolites (their overlapping colours appear as white dots). The rest must swap or die, such as the purple (red with blue) yeast cells clamouring around green leucine-producers. Researchers believe this is proof of cooperation inside sprawling colonies, another example of the resilience of yeast that often produce stubborn infections in humans.

Written by John Ankers

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Leaving the house for work from 11:30 am til 8:30 pm so I have to bring a lot of food! Lunch is quinoa with lentils/peas/carrots, dinner is brussel sprouts and leftover chili with basmati rice and some fruit for snacking :)

Expression of combinations of three different fluorescent proteins in a mouse brain produced ten different colored neurons. Individual neurons in a mouse brain appear in different colors in a fluorescence microscope. This “Brainbow” method enables many distinct cells within a brain circuit to be viewed at one time. 

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