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Diabetes Obes Metab. 2007 Nov;9 Suppl 2:56-66.

The balance between proinsulin biosynthesis and insulin secretion: where can imbalance lead?

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Comprehensive Diabetes Center, Department of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Insulin is stored in pancreatic beta-cells in beta-granules. Whenever insulin is secreted in response to a nutrient secretagogue, there is a complementary increase in proinsulin biosynthesis to replenish intracellular insulin stores. This specific nutrient regulation of proinsulin biosynthesis is predominately regulated at the translational level. Recently, a highly conserved cis-element in the 5'-untranslated region (UTR) of preproinsulin mRNA, named ppIGE, has been identified that is required for specific translational regulation of proinsulin biosynthesis. This ppIGE is also found in the 5'-UTR of certain other translationally regulated beta-granule protein mRNAs, including the proinsulin processing endopeptidases, PC1/3 and PC2. This provides a mechanism whereby proinsulin processing is adaptable to changes in proinsulin biosynthesis. However, relatively few beta-granules undergo secretion, with most remaining in the storage pool for approximately 5 days. Aged beta-granules are retired by intracellular degradation mechanisms, either via crinophagy and/or autophagy, as another long-term means of maintaining beta-granule stores at optimal levels. When a disconnection between insulin production and secretion arises, as may occur in type 2 diabetes, autophagy further increases to maintain beta-granule numbers. However, if this increased autophagy becomes chronic, autophagia-mediated cell death occurs that could then contribute to beta-cell loss in type 2 diabetes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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