Knight receives NIH grant
Assistant professor of chemistry Jefferson Knight was recently awarded a $228,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to study molecules that coordinate the cellular machinery of insulin exocytosis, the process by which this hormone is released from a cell into the bloodstream. The mechanisms by which two cellular lipid membranes fuse into a single membrane during exocytosis are still not completely understood; less is understood about how these processes go awry in disease states, such as the progressive deterioration of insulin secretion that accompanies type 2 diabetes. Under the award, Dr. Knight’s group will investigate how the synaptotagmins and related proteins involved in insulin secretion interact with lipids to catalyze membrane fusion. The results will lead to a better understanding of how these particular proteins contribute to insulin secretion in both the healthy and diabetic states, possibly leading to new options for diabetes treatment or diagnosis. More broadly, the studies will shed light on whether changes in membrane lipids may contribute to cellular defects that underlie many diseases.