Department of Chemistry

Department of Chemistry University of Oxford

Glycogenesis chemistry published in Nature

Glycogenesis chemistry published in Nature

Research published in Nature by the Professor Ben Davis group highlights that glycogen is the key energy storage molecule in all higher organisms and many lower ones. It's where the glucose that fuels us is stored and release from. However, the precise mechanisms by which glycogen is formed at its very start have remained unclear until now. At the heart of the glycogen particle is a protein that starts the process off by, remarkably, decorating itself with glucose. This 'self-sweetening' protein - glycogenin - has been hard to understand since, by definition, as it is decorating itself it is also changing (and so it's mechanism is ever-changing too). This seeming conundrum in basic human Biology and health has now been unpicked by using Chemistry - mediated by the unnatural metal palladium - to 'jump start' or 'shunt' into these different decorated forms directly. It reveals a surprisingly tolerant process to glycogen's creation and growth, which then become very precise as it goes on. This new of way of 'jumping' into different states of Biology using Chemistry suggests a new way of understanding and even programming Biology directly. more........