March 24, 2022

WSU researchers receive NIH grant to study energy metabolism

A team of Wayne State University School of Medicine researchers has been awarded a $1.51 million grant by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, to support research on the function of a novel mitochondrial enzyme in energy metabolism.

With the support of this grant, Ren Zhang, Ph.D., associate professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, and of Internal Medicine, will team with Kezhong Zhang, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics, to study the function and mechanism by which a mitochondrial NAD kinase regulates cell energy metabolism and oxidative stress response associated with the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type-2 diabetes.

“The mitochondrial NAD kinase (MNADK) is responsible for biosynthesis of mitochondrial NADP, an electron carrier molecule involved in many physiological processes, including reduction of cellular oxidative stress,” explained Dr. Ren Zhang, the contact principal investigator of the grant. “Study on metabolic functions of MNADK will have a wide impact, because mitochondrial NADP mediates many cellular processes that are associated with the development of metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and cancer.”

“Cells require NADP for energy production and antioxidant protection, and MNADK plays a crucial role in making NADP in mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cells,” added Dr. Kezhong Zhang, the multi-principal investigator of the grant. “Overnutrition, specifically high-fat diets, can decrease MNADK activity, and therefore cause the individuals vulnerable to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and type-2 diabetes.”

The collaborators for this project include Lawrence Grossman, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics of Wayne State University; Charles Burant, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan; and James Granneman, Ph.D., professor of Molecular Medicine and Genetics at Wayne State University.

The project number for this NIH award is R01DK132065.

Subscribe to Today@Wayne

Direct to your inbox 3 times a week