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Diabetologia. 2009 Jan;52(1):136-44. doi: 10.1007/s00125-008-1168-8. Epub 2008 Oct 24.

Early loss of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) signalling and reduction in cell size during dominant-negative suppression of hepatic nuclear factor 1-alpha (HNF1A) function in INS-1 insulinoma cells.

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Department of Endocrinology, Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Eccles Street, Dublin 7, Ireland.



Mutations in the HNF1A (previously known as TCF1) gene encoding hepatocyte nuclear factor-1alpha (HNF1A) lead to the development of maturity-onset diabetes of the young, type 3 (HNF1A-MODY), characterised by impaired insulin secretion and a reduction in beta cell mass. HNF1A plays an important role in pancreatic beta cell differentiation and survival. The mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a central growth factor- and nutrient-activated protein kinase controlling cell metabolism, growth and survival. We investigated the role of mTOR inactivation in the decline in beta cell mass in a cellular model of HNF1A-MODY.


Previously we showed that suppression of HNF1A function via expression of a dominant-negative mutant (DN-HNF1A) decreases insulin gene transcription in insulinoma (INS-1) cells. We investigated the signalling of two distinct mTOR protein complexes, mTORC1 and mTORC2, in response to DN-HNF1A induction.


We observed delayed inactivation of mTORC2 48 h after DN-HNF1A induction, evidenced by a reduction in serine 473 phosphorylation of thymoma viral proto-oncogene 1 (AKT1). We also observed an early inactivation of mTORC1 24 h after DN-HNF1A induction, which was detected by decreases in threonine 389 phosphorylation of p70 ribosomal protein S6 kinase (S6K1) and serine 65 phosphorylation of translational inhibitor eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E binding protein 1 (4E-BP1). Flow cytometry and gene expression analysis demonstrated a pre-apoptotic decrease in INS-1 cell size in response to DN-HNF1A induction, and an increase in the level of the mTORC1-regulated cell-cycle inhibitor, cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor 1B p27.


Our data suggest that mTOR kinase and signalling through mTORC1 are highly sensitive to suppression of HNF1A function, and may contribute to disturbance of cell-size regulation and cell-cycle progression in HNF1A-MODY.

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