Inhibition of intestinal α-glucosidases and pancreatic α-amylases is an approach to controlling blood glucose and serum insulin levels in individuals with Type II diabetes. The two human intestinal glucosidases are maltase-glucoamylase and sucrase-isomaltase. Each incorporates two family 31 glycoside hydrolases responsible for the final step of starch hydrolysis. Here we compare the inhibition profiles of the individual N- and C-terminal catalytic subunits of both glucosidases by clinical glucosidase inhibitors, acarbose and miglitol, and newly discovered glucosidase inhibitors from an Ayurvedic remedy used for the treatment of Type II diabetes. We show that features of the compounds introduce selectivity towards the subunits. Together with structural data, the results enhance the understanding of the role of each catalytic subunit in starch digestion, helping to guide the development of new compounds with subunit specific antidiabetic activity. The results may also have relevance to other metabolic diseases such as obesity and cardiovascular disease.
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