The widespread disease diabetes mellitus is characterized by insulin resistance and permanently elevated blood glucose levels, which may lead to damage to blood vessels and nerve cells.
There are many intensively pursued research approaches to diabetes– and especially to its causes and development. Relatively little is known, however, about the molecular alterations that result from high blood glucose levels. The research project EpiGlyko shall now study these processes in more detail.
Diabetes and epigenetic processes: glycosylation in focus
New scientific findings suggest that high blood glucose levels affect the enzymatic glycosylation of proteins. The sugar molecules bind to the proteins, thus regulating their functioning in the cells. Such glycosylations also take place on the histones; these are significantly involved in gene regulation. The EpiGlyko project aims to elucidate glycosylation in the context of epigenetic processes and to determine whether glycosylation is altered in people with diabetes and what consequences may thus arise for gene activity and the programming of cells.
The German-French network to conduct EpiGlyko includes Helmholtz Zentrum München (HMGU) and two French research institutes in Montpellier (CNRS) and Marseille (INSERM). Professor Dr. Dirk Eick, head of the Research Unit Molecular Epigenetics at HMGU, has been designated to coordinate the research consortium. The research group led by Dr. Elisabeth Kremmer of the Institute of Molecular Immunology, HMGU, is also involved.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the research project from August 2014 on with a total of 860,000 euros.