Genetic variants in glucose transporter regulate blood sugar levels


In a recent report published in eLIFE, researchers examined genetic variants in the CHC22 protein responsible for regulating blood sugar levels in our bodies. The CHC22 protein encodes a glucose transporter that removes glucose from the blood and transports it to muscle and fat tissues after a meal. Between meals, the glucose transporter remains inside the muscle and fat tissue so the blood sugar continues to circulate. By comparing the genomes of modern and ancient humans, researchers found that a newer genetic variant, more common in farming populations than in hunter-gatherers, may have evolved in response to increased carbohydrate consumption. The newer variant is more effective at clearing glucose out of the blood, meaning that people with this variant have lower blood sugar. The older variant maintains higher levels of glucose in the blood, which may have helped our ancestors maintain higher levels of blood sugar during periods of fasting when humans did not have easy access to carbohydrates. Thus, a major finding of the study is that people differ in how their bodies regulate blood sugar, and that these differences may be due to changing diets.

For more information, a short summary can be found on ScienceDaily. The complete research article, “Genetic diversity of CHC22 clathrin impacts its function in glucose” by Fumagalli et al., was published in eLIFE.

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