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J Biol Chem. 2003 May 30;278(22):19660-6. Epub 2003 Mar 28.

Glucose regulates insulin gene transcription by hyperacetylation of histone h4.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, Chandler Medical Center, University of Kentucky, Lexington 40536, USA.


Induction of insulin gene expression in response to high blood glucose levels is essential for maintaining glucose homeostasis. Although several transcription factors including Beta-2, Ribe3b1, and Pdx-1 have been shown to play a role in glucose stimulation of insulin gene expression, the exact molecular mechanism(s) by which this regulation occurs is unknown. Previous data demonstrate that the transcription factors Beta-2/NeuroD1 and Pdx-1, which are involved in glucose-stimulated insulin gene expression, interact with the histone acetylase p300, suggesting a role for histone acetylation in glucose regulation of the insulin gene expression. We report that exposure of mouse insulinoma 6 cells to high concentrations of glucose results in hyperacetylation of histone H4 at the insulin gene promoter, which correlates with the increased level of insulin gene transcription. In addition, we demonstrate that hyperacetylation of histone H4 in response to high concentrations of glucose also occurs at the glucose transporter-2 gene promoter. Using histone deacetylase inhibitors, we show that increases in histone H4 acetylation cause stimulation of insulin gene transcription even in the absence of high concentrations of glucose. Furthermore, we show that fibroblasts, which lack insulin gene expression, also lack histone acetylation at the insulin gene promoter. In summary, our data support the idea that high concentrations of glucose stimulate insulin gene expression by causing hyperacetylation of histone H4 at the insulin gene promoter.

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