Friday, September 7, 2018 - 8:42am
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Visual abstract of the plenary paper published in Blood

A plenary paper featuring members of the biochemistry and molecular biology department was recently published, highlighted, and given commentary in the journal Blood.

The paper, coming out of faculty member Dr. Harry Dailey's lab, addresses how erythroid cells acquire sufficient carbon for heme synthesis during erythropoiesis — red blood cell production — according to the commentary by Tracey A. Rouault. Faculty member Dr. Amy Medlock and BCMB graduate student Jason Marcero are co-authors of the paper. The work was performed in collaboration with the NIDDK-Sponsored Center for Iron & Hematology Disorders at The University of Utah School of Medicine.

The paper's first author is Joseph Burch (MD/Ph.D. with the university's Biomedical and Health Sciences Institute and the AU/UGA Medical Partnership), who completed two years of medical school at the Medical Partnership, then began his Ph.D. program under the mentorship of the department's Dr. Dailey, according to the BHSI.

According to the paper, it was previously "logical to assume that the carbons of succinyl-CoA were derived from metabolism of glucose through the usual source of succinyl-CoA," but researchers found "glutamine supplied much more carbon to heme than glucose, whereas a succinate compound downstream of succinyl-CoA in the citric acid cycle contributed almost no carbon," Reouault wrote.

"Their discoveries explain how developing erythroid cells can maintain a functional citric acid cycle, even during periods when metabolic activity is heavily skewed toward heme synthesis," Reouault wrote.