Physiology Metabolism research
The regulation of energy homeostasis is achieved by balancing energy intake and energy expenditure. Much work has focused on the role of energy balance in adiposity. However, metabolism is a key component of many physiological systems. Research in the Department of Physiology aims to understand the role of metabolism in reproduction and endocrinology. Physiology faculty are studying the role of insulin signaling in the gonads as well as endocrine regulation of metabolism. Research in the MacLean laboratory finds that the reproductive homeobox genes, RHOX5 and RHOX8, regulate several genes classically involved in energy metabolism, including the first direct RHOX-target gene, Ins2, which acts as the primary insulin signaling molecule in rodents. Research in the Ellsworth laboratory shows that the forkhead factor, FOXO1, which regulates insulin production in the pancreas and insulin actions in the liver, is important for regulating growth hormone production in the pituitary gland. These research paths promise to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the poorly understood roles of metabolism in reproduction and endocrinology.