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Mol Endocrinol. 1998 Feb;12(2):207-19.

Glucose rapidly and reversibly decreases INS-1 cell insulin gene transcription via decrements in STF-1 and C1 activator transcription factor activity.

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Department of Physiology, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1101, USA.


We have reported that chronic exposure of HIT-T15 cells to supraphysiological concentrations of glucose over many months leads to decreased insulin gene transcription and decreased binding activities of two beta-cell-specific transcription factors, STF-1 and C1 activators, and have postulated that these events may provide a mechanism for glucose toxicity on beta-cell function. We now report that culturing the highly differentiated rat insulinoma cell line, INS-1, in glucose concentrations above 8.0 mM caused a marked decrease in insulin mRNA levels within 24 h. The decrease in insulin mRNA levels was reversed by further incubation of the cells in 4.0 mM glucose. Transient transfection of a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter gene regulated by the 5'-regulatory sequences of the human insulin gene showed that elevated glucose concentrations caused a large decrease in insulin gene promoter activity. The decrease in insulin gene promoter activity was associated with reductions in the binding activities of both STF-1 and C1 activator, and these were partially reversed by lowering the glucose concentration. The decrease in STF-1 binding activity was associated with decreased STF-1 mRNA and occurred independently of changes in STF-1 promoter activity, suggesting a posttranscriptional regulatory mechanism. Furthermore, the decrease in insulin gene expression was found to occur independently of changes in cell proliferation. We conclude that physiologically relevent elevations in glucose can reversibly diminish insulin gene transcription by reducing the expression and/or binding activity of two critical beta-cell transcription factors.

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