What makes us hungry? What satisfies our hunger? The complex cellular processes controlling appetite begin when hormones such as ghrelin, melanocortin and others interact with cell surface receptors in the brain, initiating signaling pathways that stimulate or suppress appetite and prepare the body for digestion, resulting in the storage or release of energy from food.
It is in the intricate details of these pathways that some researchers hope to find solutions to the problems of obesity and diabetes. Dr. Julien Sebag and his lab at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine study cell surface receptors and accessory proteins in the brain that signal hunger, communicate “fullness”, and control energy balance—the processes that tell us when we need to eat, cause us to stop eating when full, and stimulate the body to produce and store energy. With this knowledge, scientists hope to identify drugs for treatment of obesity and diabetes.
Dr. Sebag’s lab used the HiBiT Protein Tagging System to investigate the role of the accessory protein MRAP2 in modulating the availability of the ghrelin hormone receptor. Traditionally, they would have used an antibody-based method (ELISA) to monitor this type of interaction, but they have found that HiBiT tagging offers a more sensitive, less variable and faster way to detect receptor changes. As a result, Dr. Sebag discovered MRAP2 is essential for sensing starvation and is required for the action of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin.
“HiBiT really represents a breakthrough in the way we measure protein trafficking or protein secretion”
–Dr. Julien Sebag, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine
Fulfilling the Needs of Government and Academic Research Laboratories
Basic researchers in leading academic laboratories and government
research centers are focused on new discoveries in biology. Although
much of their work can lead to drug development programs, for example,
by discovering novel protein targets, it takes many years for this to
come to fruition. Researchers in academia and government need the best,
most sensitive research tools available so that they may test their
hypotheses. The required tools are often the newest available and can be
more complex than those used just five to ten years ago. From routine
to more focused applications, Promega continues to develop improved
technologies for nucleic acid purification and PCR, to advanced assays
for cellular biology and protein manipulation.