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The human growth hormone (hGH) minigene is frequently used in the derivation of transgenic mouse lines to enhance transgene expression. Although this minigene is present in the transgenes as a secondcistron, and thus not thought to be expressed, we found that three commonly used lines, Pdx1-Cre(Late), RIP-Cre, and MIP-GFP, each expressed significant amounts of hGH in pancreatic islets. Locally secreted hGH binds to prolactin receptors on β cells, activates STAT5 signaling, and induces pregnancy-like changes in gene expression, thereby augmenting pancreatic β cell mass and insulin content. In addition, islets of Pdx1-Cre(Late) mice have lower GLUT2 expression and reduced glucose-induced insulin release and are protected against the β cell toxin streptozotocin. These findings may be important when interpreting results obtained when these and other hGH minigene-containing transgenic mice are used.
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