“Our research team has discovered that monotremes — our iconic platypus and echidna — have evolved changes in the hormone GLP-1 that make it resistant to the rapid degradation normally seen in humans. We’ve found that GLP-1 is degraded in monotremes by a completely different mechanism. Further analysis of the genetics of monotremes reveals that there seems to be a kind of molecular warfare going on between the function of GLP-1, which is produced in the gut but surprisingly also in their venom”In the throes of breeding season, the male platypus produces GLP-1 in its venom. The need for stability in this role has led to a tug of war between its role in insulin recruitment and venom; producing a longer lived protein than seen in other species. The echidna also seems to produce a more stable version of GLP-1 too, despite having different evolutionary influences.
“The function in venom has most likely triggered the evolution of a stable form of GLP-1 in monotremes. Excitingly, stable GLP-1 molecules are highly desirable as potential type 2 diabetes treatments”This work is in very early stages, but further study of this unique version of GLP-1 may reveal drugs that can increase human GLP-1 stability or even gene therapy strategies to deliver stable forms of GLP-1 to increase insulin production and combat diabetes. Read more at Science Daily