Biochemistry of Bilirubin: Biliverdin Reductase

by Kevin Ahern, PhD

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    Biliverdin reductase turns out to be one of the most diverse and amazing proteins in the entire body. The number of things that it's involved in is astonishing. Biliverdin reductase doesn't just catalyze the reaction that I've shown you to convert biliverdin into bilirubin. But it also is a serine-threonine-tyrosine kinase. Meaning, it is able to add phosphates onto all three of those amino acids. And we've seen that kinases like this are very important in the signaling process. So not only as biliverdin. Reductase is important in the metabolism of bilirubin, but it's also potentially important as a signaling component. In addition to that, biliverdin reductase affects insulin signaling. Insulin signaling we have seen as important for managing the concentration of glucose in the bloodstream. Biliverdin reductase, in addition, may block the movement of glucose into the cell. This was something insulin is trying to stimulate in the first place. Biliverdin reductase may play a role, therefore, in insulin resistance. Insulin resistance happens when cells no longer are able to respond to insulin, and as a consequence, don’t take up glucose. So this could be a very important player in that process. Biliverdin has a leucine zipper domain. Now you remember from other talks in this series that leucine zippers are very important both for protein, protein interactions and also for protein DNA interactions as occurs with transcription factors. Biliverdin reductase therefore may act as a transcription factor. And finally, biliverdin reductase may control cyclic AMP-related genes as it's seen in signaling pathways such as the beta adrenergic receptor. This, as I said, is one of the most interesting proteins that's found in cells. Now the biochemistry of bilirubin is important consideration for other things besides the reactive oxygen species that I've described. Bilirubin is not very soluble in...

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Biochemistry of Bilirubin: Biliverdin Reductase by Kevin Ahern, PhD is from the course Amino Acid Metabolism. It contains the following chapters:

    • Biliverdin Reductase
    • Biochemistry of Bilirubin

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. All of the answers are true.
    2. It is a serine-threonine-tyrosine kinase.
    3. It plays a role in glucose movement in the body.
    4. It acts as a transcription factor.
    5. None of the answers are true.
    1. ...is required for it to be carried in the bile.
    2. ...involves oxidation of bilirubin.
    3. ...involves attachment of glucose to bilirubin.
    4. All of the answers are true.
    5. None of the answers are true.

    Author of lecture Biochemistry of Bilirubin: Biliverdin Reductase

     Kevin Ahern, PhD

    Kevin Ahern, PhD

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