Gene associated with type 2 diabetes may be related to protein in sea creatures
According to a study conducted at Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences in London, new insight has been shed upon type 2 diabetes with the discovery of a protein released by sea creatures.
Professor Maurice Elphick, who published his research in the June 2010 issue of Gene
, observed that some sea animals are capable of producing NG peptides. These proteins give a hermaphroditic quality to the creatures, enabling them to simultaneously release eggs and sperm.
His research suggests that these NG peptides are created by a gene that is very similar to that which causes type 2 diabetes in humans.
Genetic tests on diabetic patients have shown that their symptoms arise from an inability to produce a hormone called vasopressin, which signals urine production in the body. This may have significant implications for those with a rare form of the disease that causes them to urinate in excess of three liters a day.
"I have discovered that marine animals, like sea urchins and acorn worms, produce NG peptides in much the same way to how our brain cells produce vasopressin," said Elphick. "This similarity can be traced back to one of our ancient sea-dwelling ancestors, when a gene for vasopressin-like molecules mutated and became associated with a gene for NG peptides."
He added that with further research, scientists will better understand why the vasopressin gene causes diabetes when it is mutated.