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EMBO J. 2011 Mar 2;30(5):835-45. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2010.361. Epub 2011 Feb 1.

miRNAs control insulin content in pancreatic β-cells via downregulation of transcriptional repressors.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) were shown to be important for pancreas development, yet their roles in differentiated β-cells remain unclear. Here, we show that miRNA inactivation in β-cells of adult mice results in a striking diabetic phenotype. While islet architecture is intact and differentiation markers are maintained, Dicer1-deficient β-cells show a dramatic decrease in insulin content and insulin mRNA. As a consequence of the change in insulin content, the animals become diabetic. We provide evidence for involvement of a set of miRNAs in regulating insulin synthesis. The specific knockdown of miR-24, miR-26, miR-182 or miR-148 in cultured β-cells or in isolated primary islets downregulates insulin promoter activity and insulin mRNA levels. Further, miRNA-dependent regulation of insulin expression is associated with upregulation of transcriptional repressors, including Bhlhe22 and Sox6. Thus, miRNAs in the adult pancreas act in a new network that reinforces insulin expression by reducing the expression of insulin transcriptional repressors.

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