The prevalence of type 2 diabetes in the United States is projected to double or triple by 2050. We reasoned that the genes that modulate insulin production might be new targets for diabetes therapeutics. Therefore, we developed an siRNA screening system to identify genes important for the activity of the insulin promoter in beta cells. We created a subclone of the MIN6 mouse pancreatic beta cell line that expresses destabilized GFP under the control of a 362 base pair fragment of the human insulin promoter and the mCherry red fluorescent protein under the control of the constitutively active rous sarcoma virus promoter. The ratio of the GFP to mCherry fluorescence of a cell indicates its insulin promoter activity. As G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) have emerged as novel targets for diabetes therapies, we used this cell line to screen an siRNA library targeting all known mouse GPCRs. We identified several known GPCR regulators of insulin secretion as regulators of the insulin promoter. One of the top positive regulators was Gpr27, an orphan GPCR with no known role in beta cell function. We show that knockdown of Gpr27 reduces endogenous mouse insulin promoter activity and glucose stimulated insulin secretion. Furthermore, we show that Pdx1 is important for Gpr27's effect on the insulin promoter and insulin secretion. Finally, the over-expression of Gpr27 in 293T cells increases inositol phosphate levels, while knockdown of Gpr27 in MIN6 cells reduces inositol phosphate levels, suggesting this orphan GPCR might couple to Gq/11. In summary, we demonstrate a MIN6-based siRNA screening system that allows rapid identification of novel positive and negative regulators of the insulin promoter. Using this system, we identify Gpr27 as a positive regulator of insulin production.
Pancreatic beta cells are the only physiologic source of insulin. When these cells are destroyed in type 1 diabetics, there is uncontrolled hyperglycemia from complete insulin deficiency. In type 2 diabetes, these same cells fail to increase insulin secretion to compensate for peripheral insulin resistance leading to relative insulin deficiency. We constructed a novel screening system to find new regulators of insulin production in this critical cell type. Here, we describe a screen of the G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) and show a role for orphan GPCR, Gpr27, in insulin promoter activity and insulin secretion. We propose that Gpr27 is a novel target for diabetes therapeutics.
Diabetes is a devastating disease that is ultimately caused by the malfunction or loss of insulin-producing pancreatic beta-cells. Drugs capable of inducing the development of new beta-cells or improving the function or survival of existing beta-cells could conceivably cure this disease. We report a novel high-throughput screening platform that exploits multi-parameter high-content analysis to determine the effect of compounds on beta-cell survival, as well as the promoter activity of two key beta-cell genes, insulin and pdx1. Dispersed human pancreatic islets and MIN6 beta-cells were infected with a dual reporter lentivirus containing both eGFP driven by the insulin promoter and mRFP driven by the pdx1 promoter. B-score statistical transformation was used to correct systemic row and column biases. Using this approach and 5 replicate screens, we identified 7 extracts that reproducibly changed insulin and/or pdx1 promoter activity from a library of 1319 marine invertebrate extracts. The ability of compounds purified from these extracts to significantly modulate insulin mRNA levels was confirmed with real-time PCR. Insulin secretion was analyzed by RIA. Follow-up studies focused on two lead compounds, one that stimulates insulin gene expression and one that inhibits insulin gene expression. Thus, we demonstrate that multi-parameter, high-content screening can identify novel regulators of beta-cell gene expression, such as bivittoside D. This work represents an important step towards the development of drugs to increase insulin expression in diabetes and during in vitro differentiation of beta-cell replacements.
Hepatic insulin resistance impairs insulin’s ability to suppress hepatic glucose production (HGP) and contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D). Although the interests to discover novel genes that modulate insulin sensitivity and HGP are high, it remains challenging to have a human cell based system to identify novel genes.
To identify genes that modulate hepatic insulin signaling and HGP, we generated a human cell line stably expressing beta-lactamase under the control of the human glucose-6-phosphatase (G6PC) promoter (AH-G6PC cells). Both beta-lactamase activity and endogenous G6PC mRNA were increased in AH-G6PC cells by a combination of dexamethasone and pCPT-cAMP, and reduced by insulin. A 4-gene High-Throughput-Genomics assay was developed to concomitantly measure G6PC and pyruvate-dehydrogenase-kinase-4 (PDK4) mRNA levels. Using this assay, we screened an siRNA library containing pooled siRNA targeting 6650 druggable genes and identified 614 hits that lowered G6PC expression without increasing PDK4 mRNA levels. Pathway analysis indicated that siRNA-mediated knockdown (KD) of genes known to positively or negatively affect insulin signaling increased or decreased G6PC mRNA expression, respectively, thus validating our screening platform. A subset of 270 primary screen hits was selected and 149 hits were confirmed by target gene KD by pooled siRNA and 7 single siRNA for each gene to reduce G6PC expression in 4-gene HTG assay. Subsequently, pooled siRNA KD of 113 genes decreased PEPCK and/or PGC1alpha mRNA expression thereby demonstrating their role in regulating key gluconeogenic genes in addition to G6PC. Last, KD of 61 of the above 113 genes potentiated insulin-stimulated Akt phosphorylation, suggesting that they suppress gluconeogenic gene by enhancing insulin signaling.
These results support the proposition that the proteins encoded by the genes identified in our cell-based druggable genome siRNA screen hold the potential to serve as novel pharmacological targets for the treatment of T2D.
Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor (HNF)4α is a central regulator of gene expression in cell types that play a critical role in metabolic homeostasis, including hepatocytes, enterocytes, and pancreatic β-cells. Although fatty acids were found to occupy the HNF4α ligand-binding pocket and proposed to act as ligands, there is controversy about both the nature of HNF4α ligands as well as the physiological role of the binding. Here, we report the discovery of potent synthetic HNF4α antagonists through a high-throughput screen for effectors of the human insulin promoter. These molecules bound to HNF4α with high affinity and modulated the expression of known HNF4α target genes. Notably, they were found to be selectively cytotoxic to cancer cell lines in vitro and in vivo, although in vivo potency was limited by suboptimal pharmacokinetic properties. The discovery of bioactive modulators for HNF4α raises the possibility that diseases involving HNF4α, such as diabetes and cancer, might be amenable to pharmacologic intervention by modulation of HNF4α activity.
Complex interrelationships exist between the four pancreatic islet cell types and their respective secretory products, insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide. These hormones are known to interact with the different islet cells and modulate their functions. Insulin inhibits glucagon secretion from the A cell both in vivo and in vitro and, in states of insulin deficiency, high glucagon levels are observed that are normalized by insulin replacement. To determine if insulin also regulates glucagon biosynthesis, we studied its effects on glucagon gene expression. Our studies indicate that insulin, in a dose-dependent fashion decreases steady-state glucagon mRNA levels in a clonal hamster islet cell line, In-R1-G9; this decrease is secondary to an inhibition of glucagon gene transcription as assessed by transcriptional run-on assays and does not involve detectable changes in mRNA stability. Inhibition of glucagon gene transcription is accompanied by corresponding decreases in glucagon immunoreactivity in both cell extracts and medium. We conclude that insulin may not only regulate glucagon secretion but also glucagon gene expression.
TWIST is a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor that regulates mesodermal development, promotes tumor cell metastasis, and, in response to cytotoxic stress, enhances cell survival. Our screen for bHLH gene expression in rat C6 glioma revealed TWIST. To delineate a possible oncogenic role for TWIST in the human central nervous system (CNS), we analyzed TWIST message and protein expression in gliomas and normal brain. TWIST was detected in the large majority of human glioma-derived cell lines and human gliomas examined. Increased TWIST mRNA levels were associated with the highest grade gliomas, and increased TWIST expression accompanied transition from low grade to high grade in vivo, suggesting a role for TWIST in promoting malignant progression. In accord, elevated TWIST mRNA abundance preceded the spontaneous malignant transformation of cultured mouse astrocytes hemizygous for p53. Overexpression of TWIST protein in a human glioma cell line significantly enhanced tumor cell invasion, a hallmark of high-grade gliomas. These findings support roles for TWIST both in early glial tumorigenesis and subsequent malignant progression. TWIST was also expressed in embryonic and fetal human brain, and in neurons, but not glia, of mature brain, indicating that, in gliomas, TWIST may promote the functions also critical for CNS development or normal neuronal physiology.
cancer; brain tumor; neuron; oncogene; invasion
Using degenerate PCR cloning we have identified a novel basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor, BETA3, from a hamster insulin tumor (HIT) cell cDNA library. Sequence analysis revealed that this factor belongs to the class B bHLH family and has the highest degree of homology with another bHLH transcription factor recently isolated in our laboratory, BETA2 (neuroD) (J. E. Lee, S. M. Hollenberg, L. Snider, D. L. Turner, N. Lipnick, and H. Weintraub, Science 268:836-844, 1995; F. J. Naya, C. M. M. Stellrecht, and M.-J. Tsai, Genes Dev. 8:1009-1019, 1995). BETA2 is a brain- and pancreatic-islet-specific bHLH transcription factor and is largely responsible for the tissue-specific expression of the insulin gene. BETA3 was found to be tissue restricted, with the highest levels of expression in HIT, lung, kidney, and brain cells. Surprisingly, despite the homology between BETA2 and BETA3 and its intact basic region, BETA3 is unable to bind the insulin E box in bandshift analysis as a homodimer or as a heterodimer with the class A bHLH factors E12, E47, or BETA1. Instead, BETA3 inhibited both the E47 homodimer and the E47/BETA2 heterodimer binding to the insulin E box. In addition, BETA3 greatly repressed the BETA2/E47 induction of the insulin enhancer in HIT cells as well as the MyoD/E47 induction of a muscle-specific E box in the myoblast cell line C2C12. In contrast, expression of BETA3 had no significant effect on the GAL4-VP16 transcriptional activity. Immunoprecipitation analysis demonstrates that the mechanism of repression is via direct protein-protein interaction, presumably by heterodimerization between BETA3 and class A bHLH factors.
Background & Aims
New-onset diabetes in patients with pancreatic cancer is likely to be a paraneoplastic phenomenon caused by tumor-secreted products. We aimed to identify the diabetogenic secretory product(s) of pancreatic cancer
Using microarray analysis, we identified adrenomedullin as a potential mediator of diabetes in patients with pancreatic cancer. Adrenomedullin was up-regulated in pancreatic cancer cell lines, in which supernatants reduced insulin signaling in beta cell lines. We performed quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction and immunohistochemistry on human pancreatic cancer and healthy pancreatic tissues (controls) to determine expression of adrenomedullin messenger RNA and protein, respectively. We studied the effects of adrenomedullin on insulin secretion by beta cell lines and whole islets from mice and on glucose tolerance in pancreatic xenografts in mice. We measured plasma levels of adrenomedullin in patients with pancreatic cancer, patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus, and individuals with normal fasting glucose levels (controls)
Levels of adrenomedullin messenger RNA and protein were increased in human pancreatic cancer samples compared with controls. Adrenomedullin and conditioned media from pancreatic cell lines inhibited glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from beta cell lines and islets isolated from mice; the effects of conditioned media from pancreatic cancer cells were reduced by small hairpin RNA-mediated knockdown of adrenomedullin. Conversely, overexpression of adrenomedullin in mice with pancreatic cancer led to glucose intolerance. Mean plasma levels of adrenomedullin (femtomoles per liter) were higher in patients with pancreatic cancer compared with patients with diabetes or controls. Levels of adrenomedullin were higher in patients with pancreatic cancer who developed diabetes compared those who did not.
Adrenomedullin is up-regulated in patients with pancreatic cancer and causes insulin resistance in β cells and mice.
Pancreas; Mechanisms; Mouse Model; Tumor
Polymorphic INS-VNTR plays an important role in regulating insulin transcript expression in the human thymus that leads to either insulin autoimmunity or tolerance. The molecular mechanisms underlying the INS-VNTR haplotype-dependent insulin expression are still unclear. In this study, we determined the mechanistic components underlying the differential insulin gene expression in human thymic epithelial cells, which should have profound effects on the insulin autoimmune tolerance induction.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
A repetitive DNA region designated as a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) is located upstream of the human insulin gene and correlates with the incidence of type 1 diabetes. We generated six class I and two class III VNTR constructs linked to the human insulin basal promoter or SV40 heterologous promoter/enhancer and demonstrated that AIRE protein modulates the insulin promoter activities differentially through binding to the VNTR region.
Here we show that in the presence of the autoimmune regulator (AIRE), the class III VNTR haplotype is responsible for an average of three-fold higher insulin expression than class I VNTR in thymic epithelial cells. In a protein-DNA pull-down experiment, AIRE protein is capable of binding to VNTR class I and III probes. Further, the transcriptional activation of the INS-VNTR by AIRE requires the insulin basal promoter. The VNTR sequence loses its activation activity when linked to a heterologous promoter and/or enhancer.
These findings demonstrate a type 1 diabetes predisposition encoded by the INS-VNTR locus and a critical function played by AIRE, which constitute a dual control mechanisms regulating quantitative expression of insulin in human thymic epithelial cells.
In this study, an INSM1-binding site in the proximal promoter sequence of the insulin gene was identified. Co-transfection of INSM1 with rat insulin I/II promoter-driven reporter genes exhibited a 40-50% inhibitory effect on reporter activity. Mutational experiments were performed by introducing a substitution, GG to AT, into the INSM1 core binding site of the rat insulin I/II promoters. The mutated insulin promoter exhibited a 3-20 fold increase of promoter activity over the wild type promoter in several insulinoma cell lines. Moreover, INSM1 over-expression exhibited no inhibitory effect on the mutated insulin promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays using βTC-1, mouse fetal pancreas, and Ad-INSM1 transduced human islets demonstrated that INSM1 occupies the endogenous insulin promoter sequence containing the INSM1-binding site in vivo. Binding of the INSM1 to the insulin promoter could suppress approximately 50% of insulin message in human islets. The mechanism for transcriptional repression of the insulin gene by INSM1 is mediated through the recruitment of cyclin D1 and histone deacetylase-3 to the insulin promoter. Anti-INSM1 or anti-cyclin D1 morpholino treatment of fetal mouse pancreas enhances the insulin promoter activity. These data strongly support that INSM1 is a new zinc-finger transcription factor that modulates insulin gene transcription during early pancreas development.
INSM1; Insulin promoter; Transcriptional repressor; HDAC-3; Cyclin D1
The insulin receptor substrate-2 (Irs2) branch of the insulin/IGF signaling system coordinates peripheral insulin action and pancreatic β cell function, so mice lacking Irs2 display similarities to humans with type 2 diabetes. Here we show that β cell–specific expression of Irs2 at a low or a high level delivered a graded physiologic response that promoted β cell growth, survival, and insulin secretion that prevented diabetes in Irs2–/– mice, obese mice, and streptozotocin-treated mice; and that upon transplantation, the transgenic islets cured diabetes more effectively than WT islets. Thus, pharmacological approaches that promote Irs2 expression in β cells, especially specific cAMP agonists, could be rational treatments for β cell failure and diabetes.
Activation of insulin gene transcription specifically in the pancreatic β cells depends on multiple nuclear proteins that interact with each other and with sequences on the insulin gene promoter to build a transcriptional activation complex. The homeodomain protein PDX-1 exemplifies such interactions by binding to the A3/4 region of the rat insulin I promoter and activating insulin gene transcription by cooperating with the basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) protein E47/Pan1, which binds to the adjacent E2 site. The present study provides evidence that the homeodomain of PDX-1 acts as a protein-protein interaction domain to recruit multiple proteins, including E47/Pan1, BETA2/NeuroD1, and high-mobility group protein I(Y), to an activation complex on the E2A3/4 minienhancer. The transcriptional activity of this complex results from the clustering of multiple activation domains capable of interacting with coactivators and the basal transcriptional machinery. These interactions are not common to all homeodomain proteins: the LIM homeodomain protein Lmx1.1 can also activate the E2A3/4 minienhancer in cooperation with E47/Pan1 but does so through different interactions. Cooperation between Lmx1.1 and E47/Pan1 results not only in the aggregation of multiple activation domains but also in the unmasking of a potent activation domain on E47/Pan1 that is normally silent in non-β cells. While more than one activation complex may be capable of activating insulin gene transcription through the E2A3/4 minienhancer, each is dependent on multiple specific interactions among a unique set of nuclear proteins.
Type 2 diabetes is characterized by both insulin resistance and progressive deterioration of β-cell function. The forkhead transcription factor FoxO1 is a prominent mediator of insulin signaling in β-cells. We reasoned that identification of FoxO1 target genes in β-cells could reveal mechanisms linking β-cell dysfunction to insulin resistance. In this study, we report the characterization of Nov/Ccn3 as a novel transcriptional target of FoxO1 in pancreatic β-cells. FoxO1 binds to an evolutionarily conserved response element in the Ccn3 promoter to regulate its expression. Accordingly, CCN3 levels are elevated in pancreatic islets of mice with overexpression of a constitutively active form of FoxO1 or insulin resistance. Our functional studies reveal that CCN3 impairs β-cell proliferation concomitantly with a reduction in cAMP levels. Moreover, CCN3 decreases glucose oxidation, which translates into inhibition of glucose-stimulated Ca2+ entry and insulin secretion. Our results identify CCN3, a novel transcriptional target of FoxO1 in pancreatic β-cells, as a potential target for therapeutic intervention in the treatment of diabetes.
The transcription factor insulin promoter factor-1 (IPF-1) plays a central role in both the development of the pancreas and the regulation of insulin gene expression in the mature pancreatic β cell. A dominant-negative frameshift mutation in the IPF-l gene was identified in a single family and shown to cause pancreatic agenesis when homozygous and maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY) when heterozygous. We studied the role of IPF-1 in Caucasian diabetic and nondiabetic subjects from the United Kingdom. Three novel IPF-1 missense mutations (C18R, D76N, and R197H) were identified in patients with type 2 diabetes. Functional analyses of these mutations demonstrated decreased binding activity to the human insulin gene promoter and reduced activation of the insulin gene in response to hyperglycemia in the human β-cell line Nes2y. These mutations are present in 1% of the population and predisposed the subject to type 2 diabetes with a relative risk of 3.0. They were not highly penetrant MODY mutations, as there were nondiabetic mutation carriers 25–53 years of age. We conclude that mutations in the IPF-1 gene may predispose to type 2 diabetes and are a rare cause of MODY and pancreatic agenesis, with the phenotype depending upon the severity of the mutation.
Islet-brain 1 (IB1) is the human and rat homologue of JIP-1, a scaffold protein interacting with the c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK). IB1 expression is mostly restricted to the endocrine pancreas and to the central nervous system. Herein, we explored the transcriptional mechanism responsible for this preferential islet and neuronal expression of IB1. A 731-bp fragment of the 5′ regulatory region of the human MAPK8IP1 gene was isolated from a human BAC library and cloned upstream of a luciferase reporter gene. This construct drove high transcriptional activity in both insulin-secreting and neuron-like cells but not in unrelated cell lines. Sequence analysis of this promoter region revealed the presence of a neuron-restrictive silencer element (NRSE) known to bind repressor zinc finger protein REST. This factor is not expressed in insulin-secreting and neuron-like cells. By mobility shift assay, we confirmed that REST binds to the NRSE present in the IB1 promoter. Once transiently transfected in β-cell lines, the expression vector encoding REST repressed IB1 transcriptional activity. The introduction of a mutated NRSE in the 5′ regulating region of the IB1 gene abolished the repression activity driven by REST in insulin-secreting β cells and relieved the low transcriptional activity of IB1 observed in unrelated cells. Moreover, transfection in non-β and nonneuronal cell lines of an expression vector encoding REST lacking its transcriptional repression domain relieved IB1 promoter activity. Last, the REST-mediated repression of IB1 could be abolished by trichostatin A, indicating that deacetylase activity is required to allow REST repression. Taken together, these data establish a critical role for REST in the control of the tissue-specific expression of the human IB1 gene.
It is widely accepted that production of insulin, glucagon, somatostatin and pancreatic polypeptide in islet cells is specific to beta, alpha, delta and pancreatic polypeptide cells, respectively. We examined whether beta cells express other genes encoding islet hormones.
Nested RT-PCR was performed on single beta cells of transgenic mice with green fluorescent protein (GFP) driven by mouse insulin I promoter (MIP-GFP).
Only 55% of adult beta cells expressed the insulin gene alone, while others expressed two or more islet hormone genes; 4% expressed all four hormone genes. In embryonic and neonatal cells, 60% to 80% of GFP+ cells co-expressed pancreatic polypeptide and insulin genes in contrast to 29% in adult. To clarify cell fate, we conducted lineage tracing using rat insulin II promoter-cre mice crossed with reporter mice Gt(ROSA)26Sor-loxP-flanked STOP-cassette-GFP. All GFP+ cells expressed insulin I and II genes, and showed similar heterogeneity of co-expression to that seen in MIP-GFP mice. Although we report expression of other hormone genes in a significant proportion of beta cells, our lineage tracing results demonstrate that after inducing InsII (also known as Ins2) expression, beta cell progenitors do not redifferentiate to non-beta cells.
This study shows co-expression of multiple hormone genes in beta cells of adult mice as well as in embryos and neonates. This finding could: (1) represent residual expression from beta cell precursors; (2) result from alternative developmental pathways for beta cells; or (3) denote the differentiation potential of these cells. It may be linked to functional heterogeneity. This heterogeneity in gene expression may provide a means to characterise the functional, cellular and developmental heterogeneity seen in beta cells.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-009-1570-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Heterogeneity; Pancreatic beta cell; Single-cell nested RT-PCR
G protein-coupled receptor 119 (GPR119) is highly expressed in pancreatic β cells and enteroendocrine cells. It is involved in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) release, thereby representing a promising target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Although a number of GPR119 agonists were developed, no positive allosteric modulator (PAM) to this receptor has been reported. Here we describe a high-throughput assay for screening GPR119 PAMs and agonists simultaneously. Following screening of a small molecule compound library containing 312,000 synthetic and natural product-derived samples, one potent GPR119 agonist with novel chemical structure, MW1219, was identified. Exposure of MIN6 and GLUTag cells to MW1219 enhanced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and GLP-1 release; once-daily oral dosing of MW1219 for 6 weeks in diabetic db/db mice reduced hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and improved plasma glucose, insulin and GLP-1 levels; it also increased glucose tolerance. The results demonstrate that MW1219 is capable of effectively controlling blood glucose level and may have the potential to be developed as a new class of anti-diabetic agents.
Although recent studies propose that epigenetic factors influence insulin expression, the regulation of the insulin gene in type 2 diabetic islets is still not fully understood. Here, we examined DNA methylation of the insulin gene promoter in pancreatic islets from patients with type 2 diabetes and non-diabetic human donors and related it to insulin expression, HbA1c levels, BMI and age.
DNA methylation was analysed in 25 CpG sites of the insulin promoter and insulin mRNA expression was analysed using quantitative RT-PCR in pancreatic islets from nine donors with type 2 diabetes and 48 non-diabetic donors.
Insulin mRNA expression (p = 0.002), insulin content (p = 0.004) and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (p = 0.04) were reduced in pancreatic islets from patients with type 2 diabetes compared with non-diabetic donors. Moreover, four CpG sites located 234 bp, 180 and 102 bp upstream and 63 bp downstream of the transcription start site (CpG −234, −180, −102 and +63, respectively), showed increased DNA methylation in type 2 diabetic compared with non-diabetic islets (7.8%, p = 0.03; 7.1%, p = 0.02; 4.4%, p = 0.03 and 9.3%, p = 0.03, respectively). While insulin mRNA expression correlated negatively (p < 1 × 10−6), the level of HbA1c correlated positively (p ≤ 0.01) with the degree of DNA methylation for CpG −234, −180 and +63. Furthermore, DNA methylation for nine additional CpG sites correlated negatively with insulin mRNA expression (p ≤ 0.01). Also, exposure to hyperglycaemia for 72 h increased insulin promoter DNA methylation in clonal rat beta cells (p = 0.005).
This study demonstrates that DNA methylation of the insulin promoter is increased in patients with type 2 diabetes and correlates negatively with insulin gene expression in human pancreatic islets.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00125-010-1967-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorised users.
Alpha cells; Beta cells; DNA methylation; Epigenetic; Gene expression; Human; Hyperglycaemia; Insulin; Pancreatic islets; Type 2 diabetes
Diabetes in nonobese diabetic (NOD) mice is a T cell-dependent autoimmune disease. The destructive activities of autoreactive T cells have been shown to be tightly regulated by effector molecules. In particular, T helper (Th) 1 cytokines have been linked to diabetes pathogenesis, whereas Th2 cytokines and the cells that release them have been postulated to be protective from disease. To test this hypothesis, we generated transgenic NOD mice that express interleukin (IL) 4 in their pancreatic beta cells under the control of the human insulin promoter. We found that transgenic NOD-IL-4 mice, both females and males, were completely protected from insulitis and diabetes. Induction of functional tolerance to islet antigens in these mice was indicated by their inability to reject syngeneic pancreatic islets and the failure of diabetogenic spleen cells to induce diabetes in transgenic NOD-IL-4 recipients. Interestingly, however, islet expression of IL-4 was incapable of preventing islet rejection in overtly diabetic NOD recipient mice. These results demonstrate that the Th2 cytokine IL-4 can prevent the development of autoimmunity and destructive autoreactivity in the NOD mouse. Its ability to regulate the disease process in the periphery also indicates that autoimmune diabetes in NOD mice is not a systemic disease, and it can be modulated from the islet compartment.
Insulin is a critical component of metabolic control, and as such, insulin gene expression has been the focus of extensive study. DNA sequences that regulate transcription of the insulin gene and the majority of regulatory factors have already been identified. However, only recently have other components of insulin gene expression been investigated, and in this study we examine the role of DNA methylation in the regulation of mouse and human insulin gene expression.
Genomic DNA samples from several tissues were bisulfite-treated and sequenced which revealed that cytosine-guanosine dinucleotide (CpG) sites in both the mouse Ins2 and human INS promoters are uniquely demethylated in insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. Methylation of these CpG sites suppressed insulin promoter-driven reporter gene activity by almost 90% and specific methylation of the CpG site in the cAMP responsive element (CRE) in the promoter alone suppressed insulin promoter activity by 50%. Methylation did not directly inhibit factor binding to the CRE in vitro, but inhibited ATF2 and CREB binding in vivo and conversely increased the binding of methyl CpG binding protein 2 (MeCP2). Examination of the Ins2 gene in mouse embryonic stem cell cultures revealed that it is fully methylated and becomes demethylated as the cells differentiate into insulin-expressing cells in vitro.
Our findings suggest that insulin promoter CpG demethylation may play a crucial role in beta cell maturation and tissue-specific insulin gene expression.
Pancreatic and duodenal homeobox-1 (PDX-1) is a transcription factor that regulates insulin expression and islet maintenance in the adult pancreas. Our recent studies demonstrate that PDX-1 is an oncogene for pancreatic cancer and is overexpressed in pancreatic cancer. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate that PDX-1 is a therapeutic target for both hormonal symptoms and tumor volume in mouse models of pancreatic cancer, insulinoma and islet neoplasia. Immunohistochemistry of human pancreatic and islet neoplasia specimens revealed marked PDX-1 overexpression, suggesting PDX-1 as a “drugable” target within these diseases. To do so, a novel RNA interference effector platform, bifunctional shRNAPDX-1, was developed and studied in mouse and human cell lines as well as in mouse models of pancreatic cancer, insulinoma and islet neoplasia. Systemic delivery of bi-shRNAhumanPDX-1 lipoplexes resulted in marked reduction of tumor volume and improved survival in a human pancreatic cancer xenograft mouse model. bi-shRNAmousePDX-1 lipoplexes prevented death from hyperinsulinemia and hypoglycemia in an insulinoma mouse model. shRNAmousePDX-1 lipoplexes reversed hyperinsulinemia and hypoglycemia in an immune-competent mouse model of islet neoplasia. PDX-1 was overexpressed in pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors and nesidioblastosis. These data demonstrate that PDX-1 RNAi therapy controls hormonal symptoms and tumor volume in mouse models of pancreatic cancer, insulinoma and islet neoplasia, therefore, PDX-1 is a potential therapeutic target for these pancreatic diseases.
The pancreatic beta cell makes several unique gene products, including insulin, islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP), and beta-cell-specific glucokinase (beta GK). The functions of isolated portions of the insulin, IAPP, and beta GK promoters were studied by using transient expression and DNA binding assays. A short portion (-247 to -197 bp) of the rat insulin I gene, the FF minienhancer, contains three interacting transcriptional regulatory elements. The FF minienhancer binds at least two nuclear complexes with limited tissue distribution. Sequences similar to that of the FF minienhancer are present in the 5' flanking DNA of the human IAPP and rat beta GK genes and also the rat insulin II and mouse insulin I and II genes. Similar minienhancer constructs from the insulin and IAPP genes function as cell-specific transcriptional regulatory elements and compete for binding of the same nuclear factors, while the beta GK construct competes for protein binding but functions poorly as a minienhancer. These observations suggest that the patterns of expression of the beta-cell-specific genes result in part from sharing the same transcriptional regulators.
In the majority of cell types, including the islet β-cell, transduction of extracellular signals involves ligand binding to a receptor, often followed by the activation G proteins and their effector modules. The islet β-cell is unusual in that glucose lacks an extracellular receptor. Instead, events consequent to glucose metabolism promote insulin secretion via the generation of diffusible second messengers and mobilization of calcium. A selective increase in intracellular calcium has been shown to regulate the phosphorylation status key islet proteins thereby facilitating insulin secretion. In addition to classical protein kinases [e.g., protein kinases A and C], recent studies from our laboratory have focused on the expression and function of various forms of NDPK/nm23-like histidine kinases in clonal β-cells, normal rodent, and human islets. Further, we recently reported localization of a cytosolic protein histidine phosphatase [PHP] in INS 832/13 cells, normal rat islets, and human islets. siRNA-mediated knock down of nm23-H1 and PHP in insulin-secreting INS 832/13 cells significantly attenuated glucose-induced insulin secretion. We also observed significant alterations in the expression and function of nm23-H1/PHP in β-cells chronically exposed to elevated levels of glucose and saturated fatty acids, such as palmitate (i.e., glucolipotoxicity). Similar changes were also noted in islets from the Goto-Kakizaki and Zucker Diabetic Fatty rats, two known models for type 2 diabetes. It is concluded that protein histidine phosphorylation–dephosphorylation cycles play novel regulatory roles in G protein-mediated physiological insulin secretion and that abnormalities in this signaling axis lead to impaired insulin secretion in glucolipo-toxicity and type 2 diabetes.
Pancreatic islet; Insulin secretion; Histidine kinases; Histidine phosphatases; nm23
There is increasing interest in developing human cell lines to be used to better understand cell biology, but also for drug screening, toxicology analysis and future cell therapy. In the endocrine pancreatic field, functional human beta cell lines are extremely scarce. On the other hand, rodent insulin producing beta cells have been generated during the past years with great success. Many of such cell lines were produced by using transgenic mice expressing SV40T antigen under the control of the insulin promoter, an approach clearly inadequate in human. Our objective was to develop and validate in rodent an alternative transgenic-like approach, applicable to human tissue, by performing somatic gene transfer into pancreatic progenitors that will develop into beta cells.
Methods and Findings
In this study, rat embryonic pancreases were transduced with recombinant lentiviral vector expressing the SV40T antigen under the control of the insulin promoter. Transduced tissues were next transplanted under the kidney capsule of immuno-incompetent mice allowing insulinoma development from which beta cell lines were established. Gene expression profile, insulin content and glucose dependent secretion, normalization of glycemia upon transplantation into diabetic mice validated the approach to generate beta cell lines.
Somatic gene transfer into pancreatic progenitors represents an alternative strategy to generate functional beta cell lines in rodent. Moreover, this approach can be generalized to derive cells lines from various tissues and most importantly from tissues of human origin.
Expression of insulin in terminally differentiated non-beta cell types in the pancreas could be important to treating type-1 diabetes. Previous findings led us to hypothesize involvement of kinase inhibition in induction of insulin expression in pancreatic alpha cells.
Alpha (αTC1.6) cells and human islets were treated with GW8510 and other small-molecule inhibitors for up to 5 days. Alpha cells were assessed for gene- and protein-expression levels, cell-cycle status, promoter occupancy status by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), and p53-dependent transcriptional activity. GW8510, a putative CDK2 inhibitor, up-regulated insulin expression in mouse alpha cells and enhanced insulin secretion in dissociated human islets. Gene-expression profiling and gene-set enrichment analysis of GW8510-treated alpha cells suggested up-regulation of the p53 pathway. Accordingly, the compound increased p53 transcriptional activity and expression levels of p53 transcriptional targets. A predicted p53 response element in the promoter region of the mouse Ins2 gene was verified by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP). Further, inhibition of Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and p38 kinase activities suppressed insulin induction by GW8510.
The induction of Ins2 by GW8510 occurred through p53 in a JNK- and p38-dependent manner. These results implicate p53 activity in modulation of Ins2 expression levels in pancreatic alpha cells, and point to a potential approach toward using small molecules to generate insulin in an alternative cell type.