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J Biol Chem. 2003 Mar 14;278(11):9715-21. Epub 2003 Jan 1.

Insulin secretory deficiency and glucose intolerance in Rab3A null mice.

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  • 1Pacific Northwest Research Institute and Departments of Pharmacology and Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98122, USA.


Insulin secretory dysfunction of the pancreatic beta-cell in type-2 diabetes is thought to be due to defective nutrient sensing and/or deficiencies in the mechanism of insulin exocytosis. Previous studies have indicated that the GTP-binding protein, Rab3A, plays a mechanistic role in insulin exocytosis. Here, we report that Rab3A(-/-) mice develop fasting hyperglycemia and upon a glucose challenge show significant glucose intolerance coupled to ablated first-phase insulin release and consequential insufficient insulin secretion in vivo, without insulin resistance. The in vivo insulin secretory response to arginine was similar in Rab3A(-/-) mice as Rab3A(+/+) control animals, indicating a phenotype reminiscent of insulin secretory dysfunction found in type-2 diabetes. However, when a second arginine dose was given 10 min after, there was a negligible insulin secretory response in Rab3A(-/-) mice, compared with that in Rab3A(+/+) animals, that was markedly increased above that to the first arginine stimulus. There was no difference in beta-cell mass or insulin production between Rab3A(-/-) and Rab3A(+/+) mice. However, in isolated islets, secretagogue-induced insulin release (by glucose, GLP-1, glyburide, or fatty acid) was approximately 60-70% lower in Rab3A(-/-) islets compared with Rab3A(+/+) controls. Nonetheless, there was a similar rate of glucose oxidation and glucose-induced rise in cytosolic [Ca(2+)](i) flux between Rab3A(-/-) and Rab3A(+/+) islet beta-cells, indicating the mechanistic role of Rab3A lies downstream of generating secondary signals that trigger insulin release, at the level of secretory granule transport and/or exocytosis. Thus, Rab3A plays an important in vivo role facilitating the efficiency of insulin exocytosis, most likely at the level of replenishing the ready releasable pool of beta-granules. Also, this study indicates, for the first time, that the in vivo insulin secretory dysfunction found in type-2 diabetes can lie solely at the level of defective insulin exocytosis.

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