RNA m6A reader IMP2/IGF2BP2 promotes pancreatic β-cell proliferation and insulin secretion by enhancing PDX1 expression

Laura Regué, Liping Zhao, Fei Ji, Hua Wang, ... Ning Dai


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is a common metabolic disease. Variants in human IGF2 mRNA binding protein 2 (IMP2/IGF2BP2) are associated with increased risk of T2D. IMP2 contributes to T2D susceptibility primarily through effects on insulin secretion. However, the underlying mechanism is not known.


To understand the role of IMP2 in insulin secretion and T2D pathophysiology, we generated Imp2 pancreatic β-cell specific knockout mice (βIMP2KO) by recombining the Imp2flox allele with Cre recombinase driven by the rat insulin 2 promoter. We further characterized metabolic phenotypes of βIMP2KO mice and assessed their β-cell functions.


The deletion of IMP2 in pancreatic β-cells leads to reduced compensatory β-cell proliferation and function. Mechanically, IMP2 directly binds to Pdx1 mRNA and stimulates its translation in an m6A dependent manner. Moreover, IMP2 orchestrates IGF2-AKT-GSK3β-PDX1 signaling to stable PDX1 polypeptides. In human EndoC-βH1 cells, the over-expression of IMP2 is capable to enhance cell proliferationPDX1 protein level and insulin secretion.


Our work therefore reveals IMP2 as a critical regulator of pancreatic β-cell proliferation and function; highlights the importance of posttranscriptional gene expression in T2D pathology.