Researchers have captured the first cryo-electron microscopy images of a key cellular receptor for diabetes in action.
The findings, published in Nature, reveal new information about workings of G protein-coupled receptors—which are intermediaries for molecular messages related to nearly every function within the human body.
G protein-coupled receptors, often shorthanded as GPCRs, reside in the membrane of cells, where they detect signals from outside of the cell and convey them to the inside to be acted upon. They respond to signals including sensory input like light, taste, and smell, as well as to hormones and neurotransmitters.
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The new, near atomic-resolution images provide an incredibly detailed look at how these important receptors bind to and transmit signals from peptide hormones.
The team revealed how the hormone GLP-1 (Glucagon-like peptide-1) binds to its receptor on the outside of a cell, and how this causes changes to the arrangement of the part extending into the cell—which then engages and activates the G protein.
GLP-1 plays an important role in regulating insulin secretion, carbohydrate metabolism, and appetite. It binds to the B family of G protein-coupled receptors, though information about their precis