Research in Prof Tao Xu’s lab focuses on the molecular mechanisms of vesicle transport and fusion in pancreatic beta cells and fat cells, with the aim of elucidating the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying blood glucose regulation. The processes of insulin secretion and fusion of glucose transporter-containing vesicles with the plasma membrane are two important events which are directly related to blood glucose regulation. Glucose uptake in fat and muscle cells occurs mainly via glucose transporter 4 (GLUT4) which translocates from intracellular compartments to the cell surface in response to insulin stimulation. This process involves sequential activation of PI3K and Akt after insulin binds to its cell surface receptor. AS160 is a substrate of Akt that is known to play a critical role in insulin-regulated GLUT4 translocation, possibly by negatively regulating the activity of Rab protein(s) involved in GLUT4 translocation.
Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and natural killer (NK) cells defend the body against virus-infected and tumor cells. A key step in this defense mechanism is the release of cytotoxic granules which contain the pore-forming protein perforin and different granule-associated proteases, including granzymes. A variety of granzymes, which are structurally related serine proteases that differ in their substrate specificity, have been described. While granzyme A and B have been extensively studied, relatively little is known about granzyme F (GzmF).
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