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Diabetes. 2002 Feb;51(2):366-75.

Overexpression of the Na/Ca exchanger shapes stimulus-induced cytosolic Ca(2+) oscillations in insulin-producing BRIN-BD11 cells.

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  • 1Laboratory of Pharmacology, Brussels University School of Medicine, Brussels, Belgium.


In response to glucose, mouse beta-cells display slow oscillations of the membrane potential and cytosolic free Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)), whereas rat beta-cells display a staircase increase in these parameters. Mouse and rat islet cells differ also by their level of Na/Ca exchanger (NCX) activity. The view that the inward current generated by Na/Ca exchange shapes stimulus-induced electrical activity and [Ca(2+)](i) oscillations in pancreatic beta-cells was examined in insulin-producing BRIN-BD11 cells overexpressing the Na/Ca exchanger. BRIN-BD11 cells were stably transfected with NCX1.7, one of the exchanger isoforms identified in the beta-cell. Overexpression could be assessed at the mRNA and protein level. Appropriate targeting to the plasma membrane could be assessed by microfluorescence and the increase in Na/Ca exchange activity. In response to K(+), overexpressing cells showed a more rapid increase in [Ca(2+)](i) on membrane depolarization as well as a more rapid decrease of [Ca(2+)](i) on membrane repolarization. In response to glucose and tolbutamide, control BRIN cells showed large amplitude [Ca(2+)](i) oscillations. In contrast, overexpressing cells showed a staircase increase in [Ca(2+)](i) without such large oscillations. Diazoxide-induced membrane hyperpolarization restored large amplitude [Ca(2+)](i) oscillations in overexpressing cells. The present data confirm that Na/Ca exchange plays a significant role in the rat beta-cell [Ca(2+)](i) homeostasis, the exchanger being a versatile system allowing both Ca(2+) entry and outflow. Our data suggest that the current generated by the exchanger shapes stimulus-induced membrane potential and [Ca(2+)](i) oscillations in insulin-secreting cells, with the difference in electrical activity and [Ca(2+)](i) behavior seen in mouse and rat beta-cells resulting in part from a difference in Na/Ca exchange activity between these two cells.

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