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Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2017 Apr 7;8:68. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2017.00068. eCollection 2017.

High-Resolution Recording of the Circadian Oscillator in Primary Mouse α- and β-Cell Culture.

Petrenko V1,2,3,4, Gosmain Y4,5, Dibner C1,2,3,4.

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Endocrinology, Diabetes, Hypertension and Nutrition Division, Department of Specialties of Medicine, University Hospital of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Faculty of Medicine, Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Institute of Genetics and Genomics in Geneva (iGE3), Geneva, Switzerland.
Diabetes Center of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
Molecular Diabetes Laboratory, Endocrinology, Diabetes, Hypertension and Nutrition Division, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Specialties of Medicine, University Hospital of Geneva, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.


Circadian clocks have been developed in evolution as an anticipatory mechanism allowing for adaptation to the constantly changing light environment due to rotation of the Earth. This mechanism is functional in all light-sensitive organisms. There is a considerable body of evidence on the tight connection between the circadian clock and most aspects of physiology and metabolism. Clocks, operative in the pancreatic islets, have caught particular attention in the last years due to recent reports on their critical roles in regulation of insulin secretion and etiology of type 2 diabetes. While β-cell clocks have been extensively studied during the last years, α-cell clocks and their role in islet function and orchestration of glucose metabolism stayed unexplored, largely due to the difficulty to isolate α-cells, which represents a considerable technical challenge. Here, we provide a detailed description of an experimental approach for the isolation of separate mouse α- and β-cell population, culture of isolated primary α- and β-cells, and their subsequent long-term high-resolution circadian bioluminescence recording. For this purpose, a triple reporter ProGlucagon-Venus/RIP-Cherry/Per2:Luciferase mouse line was established, carrying specific fluorescent reporters for α- and β-cells, and luciferase reporter for monitoring the molecular clockwork. Flow cytometry fluorescence-activated cell sorting allowed separating pure α- and β-cell populations from isolated islets. Experimental conditions, developed by us for the culture of functional primary mouse α- and β-cells for at least 10 days, will be highlighted. Importantly, temporal analysis of freshly isolated α- and β-cells around-the-clock revealed preserved rhythmicity of core clock genes expression. Finally, we describe the setting to assess circadian rhythm in cultured α- and β-cells synchronized in vitro. The here-described methodology allows to analyze the functional properties of primary α- and β-cells under physiological or pathophysiological conditions and to assess the islet cellular clock properties.


circadian bioluminescence; in vitro synchronization; mouse pancreatic islet; primary culture; α- and β-cells

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