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Islets. 2015;7(5):e1129097. doi: 10.1080/19382014.2015.1129097.

Differences in insulin biosynthesis pathway between small and large islets do not correspond to insulin secretion.

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a Department of Physical Therapy Angelo State University; Texas Tech System ; San Angelo , TX USA.
b Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science ; University of Kansas Medical Center ; Kansas City , KS USA.
c Likarda, LLC ; Kansas City , KS USA.


In a variety of mammalian species, small islets secrete more insulin per volume than large islets. This difference may be due to diffusional limitations of large islets, or inherent differences in the insulin production pathways. The purpose of this study was to identify possible differences in the early phase of glucose-stimulated insulin biosynthesis between large and small islets. Isolated small and large rat islets were challenged with 30 minutes of high glucose. The expression of insulin gene transcription factors (MafA, NeuroD/ Beta2, and PDX-1), preproinsulin mRNA, proinsulin and insulin were compared between large and small islets. Under basal (low glucose) conditions, MafA and NeuroD had higher mRNA levels and greater protein amounts in large islets compared to small when normalized to GAPDH levels. 30 minutes of high glucose stimulation failed to alter the mRNA or subsequent protein levels of either gene. However, 30 minutes of high glucose suppressed activated PDX-1 protein levels in both small and large islets. High glucose stimulation did not statistically alter the preproinsulin mRNA (insulin 1 and insulin 2) levels. At the translational level, high glucose increased the proinsulin levels, and large islets showed a higher proinsulin content per cell than small islets. Insulin content per cell was not significantly different between small and large islets under basal or high glucose levels. The results fail to explain the higher level of insulin secretion noted in small versus large islets and may suggest that possible differences lie downstream in the secretory pathway rather than insulin biosynthesis.


MafA; NeuroD; PDX; insulin; islets; proinsulin; rat

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