Alpha and beta-catenin regulate vesicle trafficking


Friday, 23 June, 2017 -
15:00 to 16:00


Rountree Room 356, Level 3, Biological Sciences Building D26, UNSW Kensington Campus


School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences

Audience / Guests: 

Public / All

Appropriate control of metabolism requires tight control of certain vesicle trafficking processes such as the secretion of insulin from beta-cells and the movement of GLUT4 glucose transporters to the cell surface in adipocytes and muscle. While some aspects of the trafficking processes are known, we do not fully understand the processes by which cells build up intracellular pools of these vesicles in a manner that they become ready for release upon an appropriate stimuli. The seminar will explore new findings showing that alpha and beta-catenin play a previously unrecognised role in vesicle trafficking processes involved in regulating metabolism. In particular these act in opposite directions to regulate the intracellular pools of insulin granules in beta-cells and also GLUT4 storage vesicles in adipocytes.  What is more, the finding that levels of these molecules can change rapidly in response to changes in nutrient levels indicates that this also represents a mechanism to allow feedback control of processes such as insulin secretion and insulin stimulation of glucose transport and also to potentially explain how long term metabolic disturbances can impact on the body’s ability to regulate glucose homeostasis.


Professor Peter Shepherd graduated from Massey University (New Zealand) and did his postdoctoral training at Harvard and Cambridge Universities. He was appointed as a staff member at University College London in 1996 and promoted to full professor in 2003. During that period, he became involved in biotechnology development and was named “London Young Biotechnology Entrepreneur of the year” in 2002 and Diabetes UK R.D. Lawrence  award in 2003. Since moving back to Auckland in 2004, he has continued to focus on research of the signal transduction pathways in the cell and how defects in these lead to the development of cancer and diabetes. He has also been involved establishing 2 biotechnology companies and in leading several drug discovery projects including the PI 3-kinase inhibitor PWT33597.   He currently serves as deputy director of the Maurice Wilkins Centre, which is one on New Zealand’s Centres of Research Excellence. In 2016 he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand.