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Understanding the role of muscle in Type 2

Project summary

Understanding the role of the TBC1D1 interactome in regulating skeletal muscle glucose transport

Professor Jeremy Tavare at the University of Bristol will investigate mechanisms by which the protein ‘TBC1D1’ controls the uptake of glucose into muscle. This could help researchers to discover targets for new drugs to improve insulin sensitivity and enhance the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.

Background to research

Ninety percent of glucose carried by the blood is absorbed by the muscle tissue, making muscle extremely important for controlling blood glucose levels in the body. The contraction of muscles and the action of insulin on muscle tissue are key to the uptake of glucose into muscle cells. This process involves complex chemical signalling pathways, and researchers know that a key protein called ‘TBC1D1’ is involved – but they don’t know exactly why. Insulin resistance in muscle tissue is a key problem in many people with Type 2 diabetes and a better understanding of these pathways could help us understand how this occurs, and find ways to overcome it. Professor Jeremy Tavare and his team at the University of Bristol have recently taken a major step towards this goal by identifying a completely new variety of proteins that interact with TBC1D1.

Research aims

With a new project grant from Diabetes UK, Professor Tavare will investigate the exact mechanisms by which TBC1D1 controls the uptake of glucose into muscle cells in response to insulin and muscle contraction, and its influence on the ability of muscle to burn fats. His team will use state-of-the-art techniques in molecular and cell biology, muscle cells grown in the lab and muscles isolated from mice, to explore the function of the proteins that bind to TBC1D1. They will also study changes to these mechanisms in a mouse model of insulin resistance.

Potential benefit to people with diabetes

This study could help researchers to discover targets for new drugs to improve insulin sensitivity and enhance the treatment of Type 2 diabetes within the next 10-20 years.

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