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Diabetes. 2004 Jan;53(1):149-59.

Induction of beta-cell proliferation and retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation in rat and human islets using adenovirus-mediated transfer of cyclin-dependent kinase-4 and cyclin D1.

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Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


The major regulator of the gap-1/synthesis phase (G(1)/S) cell cycle checkpoint is the retinoblastoma protein (pRb), and this is regulated in part by the activities of cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk)-4 and the D cyclins. Surprisingly, given the potential importance of beta-cell replication for islet replacement therapy, pRb presence, phosphorylation status, and function have not been explored in beta-cells. Here, adenoviruses expressing cdk-4 and cyclin D(1) were used to explore rat and human pRb phosphorylation and beta-cell cycle control. pRb is present in rat and human islets, and overexpression of cyclin D(1)/cdk-4 led to strikingly enhanced pRb phosphorylation in both species. Combined overexpression of both cdk-4 and cyclin D(1) caused a threefold increase in [(3)H]thymidine incorporation. This increase in proliferation was confirmed independently using insulin and bromodeoxyuridine immunohistochemistry, where human beta-cell replication rates were increased 10-fold. Cdk-4 or cyclin D(1) overexpression did not adversely effect beta-cell differentiation or function. The key cell cycle regulatory protein, pRb, can be harnessed to advantage using cyclin D(1)/cdk-4 for the induction of human and rodent beta-cell replication, enhancing replication without adversely affecting function or differentiation. This approach will allow detailed molecular study of the cellular mechanisms regulating the cell cycle in beta-cells, beta-cell lines, and stem cell-derived beta-cells.

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