Changes to RNA may impact growth and function of insulin-producing cells

Newswise — BOSTON  – October 11, 2018 – To avoid diabetes, we need healthy populations of the pancreatic “beta” cells that produce insulin for us. Research at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston now has shown that the health of these crucial cell populations can be regulated in part by an unexpected biological route—dynamic modifications of RNA involved in the biological pathways that signal the cells to grow and secrete insulin.

“One exciting aspect of our research is that dynamic modifications of RNA have the potential to transmit regulatory actions from one generation to the next,” says Rohit N. Kulkarni, MD, PhD, who is Co-Head of Joslin’s Section on Islet Cell and Regenerative Biology and a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Kulkarni, who received this year’s Albert Renold Prize from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD), outlined early discoveries about RNA modifications and their link with growth factor signaling pathways in beta cells during his Renold Lecture on October 2 in Berlin.

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