Barbara Corkey, Ph.D.

Molecular Coupling of Fuel Metabolism to Cell  Function

Research in the Corkey laboratory is centered on the influence of the nutrient environment on metabolic regulation, ionic fluxes and signal transduction in with a particular focus on adipocytes, hepatocytes and insulin secreting cells.
The main questions in the Corkey laboratory concern how fuels regulate insulin secretion and how the fat cell determines whether to store or burn fat.  We seek to answer these questions by studying the signaling consequences of cellular energy state, the influence of fatty acids on protein kinases, the role of fatty acids and long chain fatty acyl CoA on signal transduction, and how fuel-induced signals control lipid partitioning, modulate secretion, electrical activity, metabolism and gene expression.  Recent discoveries include a putative role for reactive oxygen species in insulin secretion, digital calcium signaling in pancreatic ß-cells and a role for inhibition of the respiratory chain in regulating fat storage in adipocytes.  The main tools used in the laboratory include single cell imaging of intracellular ions such as Ca2+ and H+, plasma and mitochondrial membrane potential, oxygen consumption.  Animal models being used for these investigations include the Zucker lean, fatty and fatty diabetic rat models, several knock-out and transgenic mouse models and diet-induced obese rats and mice.  Work is done in collaboration with scientists at Boston University, Tufts University, the Karolinska Institute, the Universities of Montreal, Pennsylvania and Chicago.


  1. Getty-Kaushik, L., Richard, A.-M. and Corkey, B. E. (2005) Free fatty acid regulation of glucose-dependent intrinsic oscillatory lipolysis in perifused isolated rat adipocytes.  Diabetes 54:629-637

  2. Hu, L., Deeney, J. T., Nolan, C. J., Peyot, M.-L., Ao, A., Richard, A. M., Luc, E., Faergeman, N. J., Knudsen, J. Guo, W., Sorhede-Winzell, M., Prentki, M. and Corkey, B. E. (2005) Regulation of lipolytic activity by long-chain acyl –coenzyme A in islets and adipocytes.  Am J. Physiol.  289:E1085-1092

  3. Heart, E., Corkey, R. F., Wikstrom, J., Shirihai, O. and Corkey, B. E. (2006) Glucose-dependent increase in mitochondrial membrane potential, but not calcium, correlates with insulin secretion in single islet cells.  Am. J. Physiol. 290:E143-148