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The murine Mafa transcription factor is a key regulator of postnatal islet β-cell activity, affecting insulin transcription, insulin secretion, and β-cell mass. Human MAFA expression is also markedly decreased in islet β-cells of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) patients. Moreover, levels are profoundly reduced in db/db islet β-cells, a mouse model of T2DM. To examine the significance of this key islet β-cell-enriched protein to glycemic control under diabetic conditions, we generated transgenic mice that conditionally and specifically produced Mafa in db/db islet β-cells. Sustained expression of Mafa resulted in significantly lower plasma glucose levels, higher plasma insulin, and augmented islet β-cell mass. In addition, there was increased expression of insulin, Slc2a2, and newly identified Mafa-regulated genes involved in reducing β-cell stress, like Gsta1 and Gckr. Importantly, the levels of human GSTA1 were also compromised in T2DM islets. Collectively, these results illustrate how consequential the reduction in Mafa activity is to islet β-cell function under pathophysiological conditions.
© 2015 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.