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Islets. 2013 Jan-Feb;5(1):29-44. doi: 10.4161/isl.23758. Epub 2013 Jan 1.

Genetic modulation of islet β-cell iPLA₂β expression provides evidence for its impact on β-cell apoptosis and autophagy.

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Department of Cell, Developmental, and Integrative Biology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA.


β-cell apoptosis is a significant contributor to β-cell dysfunction in diabetes and ER stress is among the factors that contributes to β-cell death. We previously identified that the Ca²⁺-independent phospholipase A₂β (iPLA₂β), which in islets is localized in β-cells, participates in ER stress-induced β-cell apoptosis. Here, direct assessment of iPLA₂β role was made using β-cell-specific iPLA₂β overexpressing (RIP-iPLA₂β-Tg) and globally iPLA₂β-deficient (iPLA₂β-KO) mice. Islets from Tg, but not KO, express higher islet iPLA₂β and neutral sphingomyelinase, decrease in sphingomyelins, and increase in ceramides, relative to WT group. ER stress induces iPLA₂β, ER stress factors, loss of mitochondrial membrane potential (∆Ψ), caspase-3 activation, and β-cell apoptosis in the WT and these are all amplified in the Tg group. Surprisingly, β-cells apoptosis while reduced in the KO is higher than in the WT group. This, however, was not accompanied by greater caspase-3 activation but with larger loss of ∆Ψ, suggesting that iPLA₂β deficiency impacts mitochondrial membrane integrity and causes apoptosis by a caspase-independent manner. Further, autophagy, as reflected by LC3-II accumulation, is increased in Tg and decreased in KO, relative to WT. Our findings suggest that (1) iPLA₂β impacts upstream (UPR) and downstream (ceramide generation and mitochondrial) pathways in β-cells and (2) both over- or under-expression of iPLA₂β is deleterious to the β-cells. Further, we present for the first time evidence for potential regulation of autophagy by iPLA₂β in islet β-cells. These findings support the hypothesis that iPLA₂β induction under stress, as in diabetes, is a key component to amplifying β-cell death processes.


RIP-iPLA2β-Tg; apoptosis; autophagy; caspase-3; iPLA2β; iPLA2β-KO; mitochondrial membrane potential; β-cell

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