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Cell Metabolism

Cells have evolved complex mechanisms that allow them to sense their nutritional status and regulate cellular metabolism appropriately. A dysfunction in metabolic regulation is the root of a variety of diseases. Our lab utilizes Saccharomyces cerevisiae to study how cells regulate glucose allocation in response to the availability of nutrients and other factors affecting growth. The focus of our studies is PAS kinase, a highly conserved sensory protein kinase that regulates glucose homeostasis and is linked to the development of Maturity Onset Diabetes (MODY). PAS kinase has both a sensory and a serine/threonine kinase domain. The sensory component consists of a PAS domain that may bind small molecule effecters and it regulates the serine/threonine protein kinase domain. Our goal is to further characterize the role PAS kinase plays in metabolic regulation by identifying specific mechanisms involved in its activation and function, including its downstream targets. Since the proteins and pathways of central metabolism are often conserved our findings may aid in understanding metabolic regulation in higher organisms.