Overexpression of Gjb4 impairs cell proliferation and insulin secretion in primary islet cells

Anneke Gässler, Charline Quiclet, Oliver Kluth, Pascal Gottmann, ... Heike Vogel



Altered gene expression contributes to the development of type 2 diabetes (T2D); thus, the analysis of differentially expressed genes between diabetes-susceptible and diabetes-resistant mouse models is an important tool for the determination of candidate genes that participate in the pathology. Based on RNA-seq and array data comparing pancreatic gene expression of diabetes-prone New Zealand Obese (NZO) mice and diabetes-resistant B6.V-ob/ob (B6-ob/ob) mice, the gap junction protein beta 4 (Gjb4) was identified as a putative novel T2D candidate gene.


Gjb4 was overexpressed in primary islet cells derived from C57BL/6 (B6) mice and INS-1 cells via adenoviral-mediated infection. The proliferation rate of cells was assessed by BrdU incorporation, and insulin secretion was measured under low (2.8 mM) and high (20 mM) glucose concentration. INS-1 cell apoptosis rate was determined by Western blotting assessing cleaved caspase 3 levels.


Overexpression of Gjb4 in primary islet cells significantly inhibited the proliferation by 47%, reduced insulin secretion of primary islets (46%) and INS-1 cells (51%), and enhanced the rate of apoptosis by 63% in INS-1 cells. Moreover, an altered expression of the miR-341-3p contributes to the Gjb4 expression difference between diabetes-prone and diabetes-resistant mice.


The gap junction protein Gjb4 is highly expressed in islets of diabetes-prone NZO mice and may play a role in the development of T2D by altering islet cell function, inducing apoptosis and inhibiting proliferation.