Loss of AMP-activated protein kinase alpha2 subunit in mouse beta-cells impairs glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and inhibits their sensitivity to hypoglycaemia.
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AMPK (AMP-activated protein kinase) signalling plays a key role in whole-body energy homoeostasis, although its precise role in pancreatic beta-cell function remains unclear. In the present study, we therefore investigated whether AMPK plays a critical function in beta-cell glucose sensing and is required for the maintenance of normal glucose homoeostasis. Mice lacking AMPK alpha2 in beta-cells and a population of hypothalamic neurons (RIPCre alpha2KO mice) and RIPCre alpha2KO mice lacking AMPK alpha1 (alpha1KORIPCre alpha2KO) globally were assessed for whole-body glucose homoeostasis and insulin secretion. Isolated pancreatic islets from these mice were assessed for glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and gene expression changes. Cultured beta-cells were examined electrophysiologically for their electrical responsiveness to hypoglycaemia. RIPCre alpha2KO mice exhibited glucose intolerance and impaired GSIS (glucose-stimulated insulin secretion) and this was exacerbated in alpha1KORIPCre alpha2KO mice. Reduced glucose concentrations failed to completely suppress insulin secretion in islets from RIPCre alpha2KO and alpha1KORIPCre alpha2KO mice, and conversely GSIS was impaired. Beta-cells lacking AMPK alpha2 or expressing a kinase-dead AMPK alpha2 failed to hyperpolarize in response to low glucose, although KATP (ATP-sensitive potassium) channel function was intact. We could detect no alteration of GLUT2 (glucose transporter 2), glucose uptake or glucokinase that could explain this glucose insensitivity. UCP2 (uncoupling protein 2) expression was reduced in RIPCre alpha2KO islets and the UCP2 inhibitor genipin suppressed low-glucose-mediated wild-type mouse beta-cell hyperpolarization, mimicking the effect of AMPK alpha2 loss. These results show that AMPK alpha2 activity is necessary to maintain normal pancreatic beta-cell glucose sensing, possibly by maintaining high beta-cell levels of UCP2.
This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust [grant numbers 073073, 068692 (to M.L.J.A.)]; and the Medical Research Council [grant numbers G0600316, G0600866 (to D.J.W.)].
Biochemical Journal, 2010, Vol. 429 (2), pp. 323 - 333
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