Researchers discovered that sugars play a part in the regulation of protein receptors.

Researchers have uncovered how sugars promote diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune diseases. Previously known to be associated with these diseases, Mount Sinai Hospital scientists discovered that sugar regulates receptor proteins’ ability to interact with external messengers.

“Our research shows that the sugar composition of these receptor proteins controlled the amount of time the protein was available to interact with the external messages, in effect, changing the likelihood that a receptor could be activated,” states James Dennis, Ph.D., senior investigator. “This explains how cells can adapt in their nutrient environment. However, when this normal adaptation becomes imbalanced, cancer cells can grow and promote metastasis.”

Dr. Dennis’ team continues to research the effects of changing the sugars associated with the key proteins that act as receptors for hormones and growth factors. The results of this study are published in Cell.

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