Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Structural insight into iodine metabolism

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
1.05.00  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biochemistry and molecular biology   

Code Science Field
P004  Natural sciences and mathematics  Biochemistry, Metabolism 

Code Science Field
1.06  Natural Sciences  Biological sciences 
iodine metabolism, crystal structure, thyroid, thyroid peroxidase, deiodinases, thyroglobulin, ligand design and screening
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (10)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  38770  Hrvoje Ćurić  Pharmacy  Researcher  2016 
2.  15284  PhD Stanislav Gobec  Pharmacy  Researcher  2016 - 2018  824 
3.  32587  PhD Marko Jukič  Pharmacy  Researcher  2016  167 
4.  32503  PhD Katarina Karničar  Biotechnology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  22 
5.  36438  PhD Damijan Knez  Pharmacy  Researcher  2018  191 
6.  33908  PhD Urban Košak  Pharmacy  Researcher  2017  57 
7.  51224  Anja Porenta    Technical associate  2018 
8.  29544  PhD Ajda Taler Verčič  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2016 - 2018  74 
9.  04988  PhD Dušan Turk  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Head  2016 - 2018  598 
10.  08773  PhD Livija Tušar  Biochemistry and molecular biology  Researcher  2018  115 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  88,507 
2.  0787  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Pharmacy  Ljubljana  1626973  17,158 
3.  2990  Center of excellence for integrated approaches in chemistry and biology of proteins, Ljubljana  Ljubljana  3663388  702 
Iodine is the heaviest essential trace element required by the higher living organisms. It is incorporated in T3/T4 hormones responsible for regulation of basal metabolism of almost any cell. T3 and T4 hormones are produced in the thyroid gland. The thyroid hormone metabolism involves selenium containing deiodinases and additional selenoperoxidases and thioredoxin protecting the thyroid gland from peroxide produced during the hormone synthesis.   Improper function of the T3/T4 hormone results in impaired metabolism that severely decrease the quality of life, manifested as depression, weight loss, fatigue, mental problems, and may occasionally result in death. More than 10% of population is effected by thyroid disorders. Historically, most of the thyroid related disorders were the consequence of insufficient iodine uptake. In the last 30 years the WHO had issued guidelines to reduce the prevalence of thyroid hormone related disorders arising from the insufficient iodine uptake. Nowadays, however, more common cause of thyroid hormone related disorders is impaired iodine metabolism that can result in hypothyroidism (reduced hormone production) or in hyperthyroidism (increased hormone production). Hyperthyroidism is treated with thyrostatics to reduce the hormone production by inhibiting the thyroid peroxidase (TPO) or by inhibiting activation of T4 to T3 by the thyronine deiodinase (DIO) 1. The increased TPO activity can be inhibited by carbimazole, which is converted to the active compound methimazole, or propylthiouracil. Those compounds were approved by FDA for hyperthyroidism treatment already in 1950 and 1947 and are still in use. These calls for improvements, based on new approaches and research techniques used today.   Most of the proteins involved in iodine metabolism are identified, however the few available structures provide a limited insight into their mechanism of action. Therefore we plan to provide the structural insight into the yet unknown parts of iodine metabolism and the T3/T4 hormone synthesis and processing. The crystal structures of TPO and DIOs alone will provide insight into the active site of these enzymes, whereas the complexes of inactive enzymes with their substrates or analogues will provide insight into their reaction mechanisms. 3D structure of thyroglobulin will reveal the substrate of TPO and help us to understand the synthesis and release of the T3/T4 hormones. The gathered structural data will serve as a starting point for structural-based drug design.   We expect that the combined use of structural studies, ligand screening and chemical synthesis will enable us to gain a profound insight into the iodine metabolism. We hope that the gathered knowledge will assist us in drug discovery process targeting hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Significance for science
Conducting research in a challenging area of biomedical science related to a worldwide health problem has potential to deliver knowledge that will change the view on the thyroid hormone related diseases. In addition, the project provides an opportunity to extend the knowhow of participating personnel.   The project will bring together Slovenian research groups of CIPKeBiP, JSI and Faculty of Pharmacy - University of Ljubljana, with research groups of Jan Lowe from Medical Research Council and Imre Berger from EMBL.   Structural insight into iodine metabolism has the potential to change the treatment of thyroid hormone disorders. The revealed crystal structures and newly discovered compounds will present the resource from which pharmaceutical industry can build novel drug discovery programs.
Significance for the country
The coordination of the project entitled “Structural insight into iodine metabolism” is important for the Center of Excellence for integrated approaches in chemistry and biology of proteins CIPKeBiP, which was established in 2009. It ensures further use of infrastructure of the Centre and provides resources for highly competitive project that will be performed in collaboration with excellent international institutions such as MRC MLB, Cambridge and EMBL Grenoble. The international collaboration will extend the expertise of the participating team in new raising area of single particle electron microscopy at atomic resolution. Published research in top ranking journals will increase visibility of Slovenian science, part of results (crystallization, crystal structure, leading compounds) may be patented and lead to establishment of a new start up.
Most important scientific results Final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Final report
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