Dr Tarasov studies physiology of hormone secretion by pancreatic islets of Langerhans. This work takes advantage of techniques for real-time monitoring of metabolism or signaling within the islet cells, such as imaging by various modes of fluorescence microscopy and patch-clamp electrophysiology.
To account for the heterogeneity of the cells within the islet and the heterogeneity of the islets themselves, high content routines have been implemented into the real-time imaging technology alongside the analytical apparatus for logical separation of cell subpopulations.
Sensing of extracellular glucose is implemented via changes in energy metabolism in all types of pancreatic islet cells. This coupling, indispensable for regulation of pancreatic hormonal output, is a major source of conundrums in the diabetes research and hence a long-standing interest of Dr Tarasov’s.
He had studied the interaction of the β-cell metabolism with the intracellular ‘energy sensors’, ATP-sensitive channel and AMP-dependent protein kinase and researched the impact of polymorphisms associated with type 2 diabetes on this coupling.
The logical progression for this work were studies on the regulation of β- and α-cell mitochondrial metabolism by the events downstream of the plasma membrane depolarisation, such as elevation of cytosolic Ca2+. Currently, his research aims to explore how glucose regulates the metabolism over longer periods of time and to identify the factors affecting the onset or offset of the metabolic activation of the secretory function.
In addition, Dr Tarasov explores the crosstalk between different cell types within pancreatic islet, which is mostly implemented by the soluble peptides (hormones) they secrete. The peptides then induce changes in intracellular molecules such as cAMP and DAG, thereby influencing the secretory abilities of the target cells
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