Navigation Links
New research on body parts' sensitivity to environmental changes

Research by a team of Michigan State University scientists has shed new light on why some body parts are more sensitive to environmental change than others, work that could someday lead to better ways of treating a variety of diseases, including type 2 diabetes.

The research, led by assistant zoology professor Alexander Shingleton, is detailed in the recent issue of the Proceedings of the Library of Science Genetics.

In particular, Shingleton is studying the genetics of fruit flies and zeroing in on why some of the insects' body parts will grow to full size even when suffering from malnutrition, while others will not. He uses fruit flies because they use the same genes to control this process as humans.

"The developmental mechanisms by which these changes in body proportion are regulated are really unknown," Shingleton said.

Shingleton said that in humans, a person's brain will grow to near full size despite malnutrition or other environmental, or nongenetic, problems.

If scientists can figure out why some organs or body parts are either overly sensitive or insensitive to environmental factors, then it's possible that therapies could be developed to deal with any number of maladies.

"If we know how we can control sensitivity to environmental issues such as malnutrition, we can, in principle, manipulate genes that are regulating that sensitivity," Shingleton said. "Genes can be activated so they can actually restore sensitivity."

Type 2 diabetes is a good example of the body's insensitivity to nongenetic issues. The most common form of diabetes, type 2, occurs when the body becomes insensitive to insulin, which is released in response to blood sugar levels. The body needs insulin to be able to use glucose for energy.

"In diabetes, that response is suppressed," Shingleton said. "We get desensitization. We know people become insulin resistant, but we're not quite sure why."

What Shingleton and colleagues discovered is that even when malnourished, the genitals of a male fruit fly continue to grow to normal size.

"The same developmental mechanism that a fly uses to make its genitals insensitive to changes in nutrition may be the same that we as humans use to modulate the responsiveness of individual body parts to changes in nutrition," he said. "Our job is to try to understand why some body parts are responsive to changes in nutrition and others aren't."

Using the fruit fly for this type of research "gives us enormous information about how we as humans work and how we respond to our environment," Shingleton said. "This provides information on biomedical issues that arise from things like malnutrition or insulin resistance."


Contact: Tom Oswald
Michigan State University

Related biology news :

1. UT Dallas research widens study of brains role in tinnitus
2. UC Arlitt Center awarded NSF grant to research learning at PlayScapes
3. Scripps Research team finds a weak spot on deadly ebolavirus
4. Effects of climate change to further degrade fisheries resources: UBC researchers
5. Scripps research scientists develop brand new class of small molecules through innovative chemistry
6. UGA researchers develop super yeast that turns pine into ethanol
7. UofL researcher determines how Legionnaires bacteria proliferate, cause disease
8. Smart swarms of bacteria inspire robotics researchers
9. Gladstone scientist receives American Heart Associations Katz prize for cardiovascular research
10. Research aims to prevent obesity by reaching parents, young children through child care
11. Finnish researchers discover regulator of human cell activity
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
New research on body parts' sensitivity to environmental changes
(Date:12/1/2015)... , Dec. 1, 2015 Synaptics Incorporated ... interface solutions, today announced a new agreement with ... with real-world test and development environments that combine FIDO ... The partnership reduces the complexity of FIDO certification for ... permits Synaptics and OEMs to verify FIDO enabled devices ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... , Nov. 30, 2015  BIOCLAIM announced today ... this year,s Fierce Innovation Awards:  Healthcare Edition, an ... , FierceHealthcare , ... a finalist in the category of "Privacy and ... --> Photo ...
(Date:11/26/2015)... DUBLIN , Nov. 26, 2015 Research ... of the "Capacitive Fingerprint Sensors - Technology and ... --> --> ... market, especially in smartphones. The fingerprint sensor vendor Idex ... fingerprint sensor units in mobile devices and of the ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:12/1/2015)... Bioscience, a company focused on synthetic DNA, today announced that ... as one of Foreign Policy,s 100 Leading Global ... life . Each year, Foreign Policy selects the ... changed lives and are shaping the world. ... be recognized among these incredible global leaders," said Leproust. "At ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Calif. , Dec. 1, 2015 ... Transformational Health program. This program addresses ways companies ... of change. ... Logo - ... aspect of healthcare, as well as the disrupting ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... -- Oxford Finance LLC ("Oxford"), a specialty finance firm ... services companies, today announced the closing of a $3 ... Company"). Proceeds from the loan are being used for ... and daily skincare products. --> ... high potency skincare products that contain the proprietary and ...
(Date:12/1/2015)... Dec. 1, 2015  The Minnesota High Tech Association ... 2015 Tekne Award in the Small and Growing Healthcare ... Minneapolis Convention Center, the Tekne ... significant role in developing new technologies that positively impact ... world. Clostridium difficile infection ( C. ...
Breaking Biology Technology: