Sea creatures' sex protein provides new insight into diabetes

March 22, 2010

A genetic accident in the sea more than 500 million years ago has provided new insight into diabetes, according to research from Queen Mary, University of London.

Professor Maurice Elphick, from Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, says his findings could help to explain a rare form of the disease that causes sufferers to urinate more than three litres every day.

As reported in the journal Gene, Professor Elphick has discovered that some marine animals produce 'NG peptides' - proteins that help the creatures release their eggs and sperm at the same time. Critically, it emerges that NG are made by a gene very similar to the that causes diabetes insipidus.

He says: "Genetic tests on patients with diabetes insipidus show their symptoms are caused by an inability to produce the hormone vasopressin, which tells the body how much urine to make.

"I have discovered that marine animals, like and acorn worms, produce NG peptides in much the same way to how our produce vasopressin. This similarity can be traced back to a one-off genetic accident in one of our ancient sea-dwelling ancestors, when a gene for vasopressin-like molecules mutated and became associated with a gene for NG peptides."

Asked about the medical relevance of his discovery, Professor Elphick said: "By researching further into how animals like sea urchins produce NG peptides, we will understand better why the faulty human gene can cause this form of diabetes in around 10,000 people in the UK."

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Association found between abnormal cerebral connectivity and variability in the PPARG gene in developing preterm infants

December 12, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A team of researchers with King's College London and the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre, both in the U.K., has found what they describe as a strong association between ...

Large genetic study links tendency to undervalue future rewards with ADHD, obesity

December 11, 2017
Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have found a genetic signature for delay discounting—the tendency to undervalue future rewards—that overlaps with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder ...

Gene variants identified that may influence sexual orientation in men and boys

December 8, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A large team of researchers from several institutions in the U.S. and one each from Australia and the U.K. has found two gene variants that appear to be more prevalent in gay men than straight men, adding ...

Disease caused by reduction of most abundant cellular protein identified

December 8, 2017
An international team of scientists and doctors has identified a new disease that results in low levels of a common protein found inside our cells.

Study finds genetic mutation causes 'vicious cycle' in most common form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

December 8, 2017
University of Michigan-led research brings scientists one step closer to understanding the development of neurodegenerative disorders such as ALS.

Mutations in neurons accumulate as we age: The process may explain normal cognitive decline and neurodegeneration

December 7, 2017
Scientists have wondered whether somatic (non-inherited) mutations play a role in aging and brain degeneration, but until recently there was no good technology to test this idea. A study published online today in Science, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.