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Mol Endocrinol. 2007 Nov;21(11):2764-74. Epub 2007 Jul 17.

MafA regulates expression of genes important to islet beta-cell function.

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Department of Internal Medicine and Therapeutics, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-2 Yamadaoka, Suita 565-0871 Japan.


Insulin transcription factor MafA is unique in being exclusively expressed at the secondary and principal phase of insulin-expressing cell production during pancreas organogenesis and is the only transcriptional activator present exclusively in islet beta-cells. Here we show that ectopic expression of MafA is sufficient to induce a small amount of endogenous insulin expression in a variety of non-beta-cell lines. Insulin mRNA and protein expression was induced to a much higher level when MafA was provided with two other key insulin activators, pancreatic and duodenal homeobox (PDX-1) and BETA2. Potentiation by PDX-1 and BETA2 was entirely dependent upon MafA, and MafA binding to the insulin enhancer region was increased by PDX-1 and BETA2. Treatment with activin A and hepatocyte growth factor induced even larger amounts of insulin in AR42J pancreatic acinar cells, compared with other non-beta endodermal cells. The combination of PDX-1, BETA2, and MafA also induced the expression of other important regulators of islet beta-cell activity. These results support a critical role of MafA in islet beta-cell function.

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