Obesity and diabetes contribute to illness and death. Scientists are trying to understand how the body controls energy, glucose, and insulin. This knowledge will help them develop new treatments. In many tissues, cells have a particular type of protein—called Gsα—that influences these processes by mediating signals from hormone and neurotransmitter receptors. Gsα also plays multiples role in the development of fat tissue, the function of the pancreas, and regulation of glucose metabolism by the liver. Additionally, this protein affects brain pathways that control energy balance and glucose metabolism.
Our research group investigates how Gsα regulates metabolism. In these studies, we use mice that lack Gsα due to genetic mutations. We focus on how Gsα disruption influences tissues involved in obesity and glucose intolerance. Our results show that lacking Gsα in liver, muscle, or fat tissues has important effects on metabolism, but does not cause these metabolic effects seen in Albright hereditary osteodystrophy patients with Gsα mutations. Instead, loss of Gsα in the central nervous system contributes to these metabolic effects. Our results show that different G proteins may influence energy and glucose metabolism. One day, scientists may use our findings to develop medications for obesity and diabetes.