Oct. 1, 2018

Many of the foods we eat contain a large number of polysaccharides. These molecules go through many metabolic processes within us to produce glucose. The glucose is then transported from the extracellular space into cells where it is used to generate ATP- which is the energy that our bodies use to carry out work. The real trick here is getting glucose through the cell membrane. Two important molecules play a role in this process. The first is insulin which is released from pancreatic Beta cells when there is an increase in glucose concentration. The second is the insulin target receptor (pdb:4ZXB) and this week’s featured molecule; Insulin Receptor (IR). IR is a subtype receptor of the tyrosine kinase family, which is also activated by IGF-1 and IGF-2. Once insulin binds to IR a cascade of events occurs via the PI-3K signaling pathway which causes the insertion of GLUT-4. GLUT-4 is the glucose transporter that walks glucose across the cell membrane. As you can see, insulin receptor is very important and errors in the receptor or the signaling pathway can be fatal if not treated promptly. A common pathology that causes problems with this pathway is diabetes mellitus type 2. In this form of diabetes there is an insulin resistance to some of the IR in the body. Patients with type 2 diabetes suffer from an elevated plasma glucose level which may lead to glycosuria and ketoacidosis. Treatment for type 2 diabetes involves an individual making lifestyle changes, self-monitoring blood glucose levels, and taking certain medications.