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Diabetes. 2018 Nov;67(11):2254-2267. doi: 10.2337/db18-0201. Epub 2018 Aug 16.

Contribution of the Long Noncoding RNA H19 to β-Cell Mass Expansion in Neonatal and Adult Rodents.

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Department of Fundamental Neurosciences, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
University Côte d'Azur, INSERM, CNRS, Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging, ‎Nice, France.
Diabetes and Metabolism Division, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Darlinghurst, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Montreal Diabetes Research Center and Centre de Recherche du Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Montréal, Montréal, Québec, Canada.
University Côte d'Azur, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire, INSERM, CNRS, Institute for Research on Cancer and Aging, Nice, ‎France.
Department of Fundamental Neurosciences, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland


Pancreatic β-cell expansion throughout the neonatal period is essential to generate the appropriate mass of insulin-secreting cells required to maintain blood glucose homeostasis later in life. Hence, defects in this process can predispose to diabetes development during adulthood. Global profiling of transcripts in pancreatic islets of newborn and adult rats revealed that the transcription factor E2F1 controls expression of the long noncoding RNA H19, which is profoundly downregulated during the postnatal period. H19 silencing decreased β-cell expansion in newborns, whereas its re-expression promoted proliferation of β-cells in adults via a mechanism involving the microRNA let-7 and the activation of Akt. The offspring of rats fed a low-protein diet during gestation and lactation display a small β-cell mass and an increased risk of developing diabetes during adulthood. We found that the islets of newborn rats born to dams fed a low-protein diet express lower levels of H19 than those born to dams that did not eat a low-protein diet. Moreover, we observed that H19 expression increases in islets of obese mice under conditions of increased insulin demand. Our data suggest that the long noncoding RNA H19 plays an important role in postnatal β-cell mass expansion in rats and contributes to the mechanisms compensating for insulin resistance in obesity.

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