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J Biol Chem. 2011 Aug 12;286(32):28026-40. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.235366. Epub 2011 Jun 20.

Munc18-1 and Munc18-2 proteins modulate beta-cell Ca2+ sensitivity and kinetics of insulin exocytosis differently.

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  • 1The Rolf Luft Research Center for Diabetes and Endocrinology, Karolinska Institutet, 17176 Stockholm, Sweden.


Fast neurotransmission and slower hormone release share the same core fusion machinery consisting of SNARE (soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor) proteins. In evoked neurotransmission, interactions between SNAREs and the Munc18-1 protein, a member of the Sec1/Munc18 (SM) protein family, are essential for exocytosis, whereas other SM proteins are dispensable. To address if the exclusivity of Munc18-1 demonstrated in neuroexocytosis also applied to fast insulin secretion, we characterized the presence and function of Munc18-1 and its closest homologue Munc18-2 in β-cell stimulus-secretion coupling. We show that pancreatic β-cells express both Munc18-1 and Munc18-2. The two Munc18 homologues exhibit different subcellular localization, and only Munc18-1 redistributes in response to glucose stimulation. However, both Munc18-1 and Munc18-2 augment glucose-stimulated hormone release. Ramp-like photorelease of caged Ca(2+) and high resolution whole-cell patch clamp recordings show that Munc18-1 and Munc18-2 overexpression shift the Ca(2+) sensitivity of the fastest phase of insulin exocytosis differently. In addition, we reveal that Ca(2+) sensitivity of exocytosis in β-cells depends on the phosphorylation status of the Munc18 proteins. Even though Munc18-1 emerges as the key SM-protein determining the Ca(2+) threshold for triggering secretory activity in a stimulated β-cell, Munc18-2 has the ability to increase Ca(2+) sensitivity and thus mediates the release of fusion-competent granules requiring a lower cytoplasmic-free Ca(2+) concentration, [Ca(2+)](i)(.) Hence, Munc18-1 and Munc18-2 display distinct subcellular compartmentalization and can coordinate the insulin exocytotic process differently as a consequence of the actual [Ca(2+)](i).

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