The process of converting glucose in the body involves the formation of a harmful product called "glycerol-3-phosphate." This compound affects organs and fat storage.
Now Canadian researchers have found that a protein known as "glycerol-3-phosphate phosphatase", or G3PP that converts this harmful byproduct of glucose into a non-toxic compound known as glycerol.
‘The discovery of an enzyme, which helps neutralize the effects of excess glucose could lead to an entirely new class of diabetes drugs.’
While G3PP has been identified in simple creatures including bacteria, algae and yeast, it was not thought to exist in people. But the study found that the enzyme helped metabolize nutrients in the cells of all mammals.
Co-author Marc Prentki said, "Abnormally elevated levels of glucose triggered excessive production of a chemical known as "glycerol-3 phosphate. While this compound plays an essential role in energy production and fat formation, too much of it can overload the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas."
"We found that G3PP is able to break down a great proportion of this excess glycerol phosphate into glycerol and divert it outside the cell, thus protecting the beta cells of the pancreas and various organs from the toxic effects," said Professor Prentki.
The team predicts that this new enzyme will help in developing potential drugs with unique mechanism for obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Dr. Murthy Madiraju, who also worked on the study, said, "By diverting glucose as glycerol, G3PP prevents excessive formation and storage of fat and it also lowers excessive production of glucose in liver, a major problem in diabetes."
Reference: Yves Mugabo, Shangang Zhao, "Identification of a mammalian glycerol-3-phosphate phosphatase: Role in metabolism and signaling in pancreatic β-cells and hepatocytes," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1514375113