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Mol Endocrinol. 2009 Dec;23(12):1990-9. doi: 10.1210/me.2009-0296. Epub 2009 Oct 9.

Mice deficient for glucagon gene-derived peptides display normoglycemia and hyperplasia of islet {alpha}-cells but not of intestinal L-cells.

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Department of Genetics, Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Nagoya University, Japan.


Multiple bioactive peptides, including glucagon, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), and GLP-2, are derived from the glucagon gene (Gcg). In the present study, we disrupted Gcg by introduction of GFP cDNA and established a knock-in mouse line. Gcg(gfp/gfp) mice that lack most, if not all, of Gcg-derived peptides were born in an expected Mendelian ratio without gross abnormalities. Gcg(gfp/gfp) mice showed lower blood glucose levels at 2 wk of age, but those in adult Gcg(gfp/gfp) mice were not significantly different from those in Gcg(+/+) and Gcg(gfp/+) mice, even after starvation for 16 h. Serum insulin levels in Gcg(gfp/gfp) mice were lower than in Gcg(+/+) and Gcg(gfp/+) on ad libitum feeding, but no significant differences were observed on starvation. Islet alpha-cells and intestinal L-cells were readily visualized in Gcg(gfp/gfp) and Gcg(gfp/+) mice under fluorescence. The Gcg(gfp/gfp) postnatally developed hyperplasia of islet alpha-cells, whereas the population of intestinal L-cells was not increased. In the Gcg(gfp/gfp), expression of Aristaless-related homeobox (Arx) was markedly increased in pancreas but not in intestine and suggested involvement of Arx in differential regulation of proliferation of Gcg-expressing cells. These results illustrated that Gcg-derived peptides are dispensable for survival and maintaining normoglycemia in adult mice and that Gcg-derived peptides differentially regulate proliferation/differentiation of alpha-cells and L-cells. The present model is useful for analyzing glucose/energy metabolism in the absence of Gcg-derived peptides. It is useful also for analysis of the development, differentiation, and function of Gcg-expressing cells, because such cells are readily visualized by fluorescence in this model.

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