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J Biol Chem. 2008 Mar 28;283(13):8723-35. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M706105200. Epub 2008 Jan 23.

Glucagon-like peptide-1 activation of TCF7L2-dependent Wnt signaling enhances pancreatic beta cell proliferation.

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Laboratory of Molecular Endocrinology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA.


The insulinotropic hormone GLP-1 (glucagon-like peptide-1) is a new therapeutic agent that preserves or restores pancreatic beta cell mass. We report that GLP-1 and its agonist, exendin-4 (Exd4), induce Wnt signaling in pancreatic beta cells, both isolated islets, and in INS-1 cells. Basal and GLP-1 agonist-induced proliferation of beta cells requires active Wnt signaling. Cyclin D1 and c-Myc, determinants of cell proliferation, are up-regulated by Exd4. Basal endogenous Wnt signaling activity depends on Wnt frizzled receptors and the protein kinases Akt and GSK3beta but not cAMP-dependent protein kinase. In contrast, GLP-1 agonists enhance Wnt signaling via GLP-1 receptor-mediated activation of Akt and beta cell independent of GSK3beta. Inhibition of Wnt signaling by small interfering RNAs to beta-catenin or a dominant-negative TCF7L2 decreases both basal and Exd4-induced beta cell proliferation. Wnt signaling appears to mediate GLP-1-induced beta cell proliferation raising possibilities for novel treatments of diabetes.

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