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Eur J Endocrinol. 2016 May;174(5):R225-38. doi: 10.1530/EJE-15-0916. Epub 2015 Dec 1.

MECHANISMS IN ENDOCRINOLOGY: Alternative splicing: the new frontier in diabetes research.

Author information

1
Medical FacultyULB Center for Diabetes Research and Welbio, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Route de Lennik, 808 - CP618, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium deizirik@ulb.ac.be mjuanmat@ulb.ac.be.
2
Medical FacultyULB Center for Diabetes Research and Welbio, Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), Route de Lennik, 808 - CP618, B-1070 Brussels, Belgium.

Abstract

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disease in which pancreatic β cells are killed by infiltrating immune cells and by cytokines released by these cells. This takes place in the context of a dysregulated dialogue between invading immune cells and target β cells, but the intracellular signals that decide β cell fate remain to be clarified. Alternative splicing (AS) is a complex post-transcriptional regulatory mechanism affecting gene expression. It regulates the inclusion/exclusion of exons into mature mRNAs, allowing individual genes to produce multiple protein isoforms that expand the proteome diversity. Functionally related transcript populations are co-ordinately spliced by master splicing factors, defining regulatory networks that allow cells to rapidly adapt their transcriptome in response to intra and extracellular cues. There is a growing interest in the role of AS in autoimmune diseases, but little is known regarding its role in T1D. In this review, we discuss recent findings suggesting that splicing events occurring in both immune and pancreatic β cells contribute to the pathogenesis of T1D. Splicing switches in T cells and in lymph node stromal cells are involved in the modulation of the immune response against β cells, while β cells exposed to pro-inflammatory cytokines activate complex splicing networks that modulate β cell viability, expression of neoantigens and susceptibility to immune-induced stress. Unveiling the role of AS in β cell functional loss and death will increase our understanding of T1D pathogenesis and may open new avenues for disease prevention and therapy.

PMID:
26628584
PMCID:
PMC5331159
DOI:
10.1530/EJE-15-0916
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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