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J Biol Chem. 2000 Nov 17;275(46):35953-9.

Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha regulates the expression of pancreatic beta -cell genes implicated in glucose metabolism and nutrient-induced insulin secretion.

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  • 1Division de Biochimie Clinique, Départment de Médecine Interne, Centre Médical Universitaire, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.


Mutations in the HNF4alpha gene are associated with the subtype 1 of maturity-onset diabetes of the young (MODY1), which is characterized by impaired insulin secretory response to glucose in pancreatic beta-cells. Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha (HNF4alpha) is a transcription factor critical for liver development and hepatocyte-specific gene expression. However, the role of HNF4alpha in the regulation of pancreatic beta-cell gene expression and its correlation with metabolism secretion coupling have not been previously investigated. The tetracycline-inducible system was employed to achieve tightly controlled expression of both wild type (WT) and dominant-negative mutant (DN) of HNF4alpha in INS-1 cells. The induction of WT-HNF4alpha resulted in a left shift in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, whereas DN-HNF4alpha selectively impaired nutrient-stimulated insulin release. Induction of DN-HNF4alpha also caused defective mitochondrial function substantiated by reduced [(14)C]pyruvate oxidation, attenuated substrate-evoked mitochondrial membrane hyperpolarization, and blunted nutrient-generated cellular ATP production. Quantitative evaluation of HNF4alpha-regulated pancreatic beta-cell gene expression revealed altered mRNA levels of insulin, glucose transporter-2, L-pyruvate kinase, aldolase B, 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase E1 subunit, and mitochondrial uncoupling protein-2. The patterns of HNF4alpha-regulated gene expression are strikingly similar to that of its downstream transcription factor HNF1alpha. Indeed, HNF4alpha changed the HNF1alpha mRNA levels and HNF1alpha promoter luciferase activity through altered HNF4alpha binding. These results demonstrate the importance of HNF4alpha in beta-cell metabolism-secretion coupling.

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