Post-translational protein modification byO-linked N-acetyl-glucosamine: Its role in mediating the adverse effects of diabetes on the heart

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The post-translation attachment of O-linked N-acetylglucosamine, or O-GlcNAc, to serine and threonine residues of nuclear and cytoplasmic proteins is increasingly recognized as a key regulator of diverse cellular processes. O-GlcNAc synthesis is essential for cell survival and it has been shown that acute activation of pathways, which increase cellular O-GlcNAc levels is cytoprotective; however, prolonged increases in O-GlcNAcylation have been implicated in a number of chronic diseases. Glucose metabolism via the hexosamine biosynthesis pathway plays a central role in regulating O-GlcNAc synthesis; consequently, sustained increases in O-GlcNAc levels have been implicated in glucose toxicity and insulin resistance. Studies on the role of O-GlcNAc in regulating cardiomyocyte function have grown rapidly over the past decade and there is growing evidence that increased O-GlcNAc levels contribute to the adverse effects of diabetes on the heart, including impaired contractility, calcium handling, and abnormal stress responses. Recent evidence also suggests that O-GlcNAc plays a role in epigenetic control of gene transcription. The goal of this review is to provide an overview of our current knowledge about the regulation of protein O-GlcNAcylation and to explore in more detail O-GlcNAc-mediated responses in the diabetic heart.

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