OHSU publication selected for the Journal of Biological Chemistry’s “Paper of the Week”

Pei-Chun Chen, Ph.D.

A publication by Pei-Chun Chen, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and her mentor, Show-Ling Shyng, Ph.D., has been selected as a “Paper of the Week” by the Journal of Biological Chemistry. The paper, “Leptin Regulates KATP Channel Trafficking in Pancreatic β-cells by a Signaling Mechanism Involving AMPK and PKA,” was highlighted online and in the Nov. 22 print version of the journal. Additionally, a figure from the paper was selected for the cover of JBC.

Only the top two percent of papers published by the JBC are selected for “Paper of the Week.” Papers are reviewed by the journal’s editorial board and associate editors and are chosen based on significance and overall importance.

The Shyng Lab studies the biology of ion channels, membrane proteins that serve a variety of physiological functions. In this paper, the research team looked at pancreatic β-cells, which secrete insulin in response to metabolic and hormonal signals in order to maintain blood sugar levels. Impairment of insulin secretion can lead to metabolic syndromes and type 2 diabetes. ATP-sensitive potassium channels, also known as KATP, play a key role in setting β-cell membrane potential to control insulin secretion.

A figure from the paper was selected for the Nov. 22 cover of JBC. Here, insulin secreting beta cells are stained to show that leptin induces translocation of KATP channels to the plasma membrane.

In this paper, the researchers show that the density of KATP channels in the β-cell membrane is dynamically regulated by a hormonal signal called leptin. They found that leptin causes a marked increase in KATP channel surface expression in β-cells by activating AMPK and PKA signaling, which leads to F-actin depolymerization and increases KATP trafficking to the plasma membrane.

“This finding is significant because it highlights KATP channel trafficking regulation as an important physiological mechanism for controlling channel activity and thus insulin secretion,” said Dr. Chen, the paper’s lead author.

Funding for this research was provided by the National Institutes of Health under grant T32 DK007680 to Dr. Richard H. Goodman and grant DK57699 to Dr. Shyng.