Metals such as zinc, copper, and chromium bind to and influence a peptide involved in insulin production, as recent work by chemists at the University of California, Davis, has revealed. The research is part of a new field of "metalloendocrinology" that deals in detail with the role of metals in biological processes in the body.
"We ask questions that people did not know we did not have answers to," said Marie Heffern, assistant professor of chemistry at UC Davis and lead author of the paper to be published in the journal ] ChemBioChem .
Metals play a role in many biochemical processes. Hemoglobin contains iron and carries oxygen in the blood; Zinc and copper are involved in one third to one half of all bodily functions. Although scientists know the total amount of an element in a particular part of the body, eg. Blood, however, generally does not know where these metals are, what state they are in, or what biological role they play in the body.
] "Metal is an ingredient ̵
The new study looked at C-peptide, or compound peptide, a short chain of amino acids. C-peptide is being investigated for its potential in the treatment of kidney disease and nerve damage in diabetes, so that a better understanding of the behavior of various diseases in drug development could be helpful.
Influence of shape and uptake by cells
When the pancreas produces insulin, C-peptide combines two insulin chains in a preparatory step. The C-peptide is then excised, stored together with the insulin and released at the same time. C-peptide used to be a by-product of insulin production, but today scientists know that it works as a stand-alone hormone.
The researchers measured how easily zinc, copper, and chromium are bound in test tubes and to C-peptide. How the metals affected the ability of cells to accept C-peptide.
The metals had subtle effects on the structure of C-peptide, in particular the ability to curl into a helix under certain conditions. Copper and chromium prevented cells from taking up the hormone, but other metals such as zinc, cobalt and manganese did not work that way.
The results indicate that metals may "tune" the activity of hormones such as C-peptide by altering their structure or affecting uptake into cells, Heffern said. Contributors include postdoctoral researcher Michael Stevenson, research specialist Kylie Uyeda, PhD student Jessica San Juan, and Ian Farran, who have degrees in biochemistry and molecular biology.
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Michael James Stevenson et al., Analysis of Metal Effects on C – Peptide Structure and Internalization, ChemBioChem (2019). DOI: 10.1002 / cbic.201900172
Metals affect C-peptide hormone associated with insulin (2019, 17 May)
retrieved on 19 May 2019
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