The rise in obesity worldwide parallels a dramatic increase in obesity-associated diseases, most notably type-II diabetes. This disease is predicted to reach epidemic proportions in the next several decades. Thus, understanding the biochemical processes underlying type-II diabetes and identifying new targets for therapeutic intervention are critical for national and world health. Some of the most widely prescribed insulin-sensitizing drugs to treat type-II diabetes belong to the thiazolidinedione (TZD) class of molecules. These drugs were found to also reduce many of the pathologies related to metabolic syndrome including hypertension, abdominal obesity, coronary artery inflammation, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer's disease and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. While the TZDs were originally thought to exert their effects solely through activation of the nuclear transcription factor PPAR?, it is nw known that many of the beneficial effects are mediated in a PPAR?-independent manner. The TZDs were recently shown to interact with a novel mitochondrial protein target called mitoNEET. We reported that the protein mitoNEET is a redox-active, pH-labile 2Fe-2S cluster containing protein in the outer mitochondrial membrane. This is the only known Fe-S protein in the outer- mitochondrial membrane. Miner1, an endoplasmic reticulum homolog of mitoNEET, is important in maintaining health and longevity and interacts with proteins associated with cancer as well as neurodegenerative diseases. These proteins have emerged as important new therapeutic targets in diseases ranging from diabetes to Alzheimer's. The focus of this proposal is to implement high through-put screening methods to first identify small molecules that modulate the activity of this novel protein family, second validate the identified targets in secondary screening methods, use the knowledge gained from these studies to develop potential therapeutics and test the effects of identified molecules in cellular assays.
The rise in obesity in the United States parallels a dramatic increase in obesity- associated diseases, most notably is the increase in type-II diabetes that is predicted to reach epidemic proportions in the next several decades. Thus, identifying new targets for therapeutic intervention is critical for national and world health. We are building upon our recent structural characterization of the novel NEET family of proteins found in cells that shows potential as a new target for the development of innovative drugs to treat diabetes.