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White adipose tissue (WAT) is a complex organ that plays a central role in systemic energy balance through its interrelated metabolic, endocrine, and immune functions. Adipocytes, the parenchymal cells of adipose tissue, have diverse functions that include storage and mobilization of lipids. They also release endocrine signals that report energy status to the brain, regulating metabolic functions in peripheral organs. Importantly, the metabolic character of white adipocytes is flexible, with cells capable of assuming distinct anabolic and catabolic/thermogenic phenotypes, often within the same adipose tissue depot

Elizabeth A. Rondini, Vanesa D. Ramseyer, Rayanne B. Burl, Roger Pique-Regi, James G. Granneman

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Current Issue

Dysregulation of the Pdx1/Ovol2/Zeb2 axis in dedifferentiated β-cells triggers the induction of genes associated with epithelial–mesenchymal transition in diabetes

Daniel S. de Jesus, Tracy C.S. Mak, Yi-Fang Wang, Yorrick von Ohlen, ... Mathieu Latreille

Objective

β-cell dedifferentiation has been revealed as a pathological mechanism underlying pancreatic dysfunction in diabetes. We previously showed that increased miR-7 levels trigger β-cell dedifferentiation and diabetes. We used β-cell-specific miR-7 overexpressing mice (Tg7) to test the hypothesis that loss of β-cell identity triggered by miR-7 overexpression alters islet gene expression and islet microenvironment in diabetes.

Methods

We performed bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) in islets obtained from β-cell-specific miR-7 overexpressing mice (Tg7). We carried out loss- and gain-of-function experiments in MIN6 and EndoC-bH1 cell lines. We analysed previously published mouse and human T2D data sets.

Results

Bulk RNA-seq revealed that β-cell dedifferentiation is associated with the induction of genes associated with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in prediabetic (2-week-old) and diabetic (12-week-old) Tg7 mice. Single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) indicated that this EMT signature is enriched specifically in β-cells. These molecular changes are associated with a weakening of β-cell: β-cell contacts, increased extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, and TGFβ-dependent islet fibrosis. We found that the mesenchymal reprogramming of β-cells is explained in part by the downregulation of Pdx1 and its inability to regulate a myriad of epithelial-specific genes expressed in β-cells. Notable among genes transactivated by Pdx1 is Ovol2, which encodes a transcriptional repressor of the EMT transcription factor Zeb2. Following compromised β-cell identity, the reduction in Pdx1 gene expression causes a decrease in Ovol2 protein, triggering mesenchymal reprogramming of β-cells through the induction of Zeb2. We provided evidence that EMT signalling associated with the upregulation of Zeb2 expression is a molecular feature of islets in T2D subjects.

Conclusions

Our study indicates that miR-7-mediated β-cell dedifferentiation induces EMT signalling and a chronic response to tissue injury, which alters the islet microenvironment and predisposes to fibrosis. This research suggests that regulators of EMT signalling may represent novel therapeutic targets for treating β-cell dysfunction and fibrosis in T2D.

Dysregulation of the Pdx1/Ovol2/Zeb2 axis in dedifferentiated β-cells triggers the induction of genes associated with epithelial–mesenchymal transition in diabetes

Daniel S. de Jesus, Tracy C.S. Mak, Yi-Fang Wang, Yorrick von Ohlen, ... Mathieu Latreille

Objective

β-cell dedifferentiation has been revealed as a pathological mechanism underlying pancreatic dysfunction in diabetes. We previously showed that increased miR-7 levels trigger β-cell dedifferentiation and diabetes. We used β-cell-specific miR-7 overexpressing mice (Tg7) to test the hypothesis that loss of β-cell identity triggered by miR-7 overexpression alters islet gene expression and islet microenvironment in diabetes.

Methods

We performed bulk and single-cell RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) in islets obtained from β-cell-specific miR-7 overexpressing mice (Tg7). We carried out loss- and gain-of-function experiments in MIN6 and EndoC-bH1 cell lines. We analysed previously published mouse and human T2D data sets.

Results

Bulk RNA-seq revealed that β-cell dedifferentiation is associated with the induction of genes associated with epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in prediabetic (2-week-old) and diabetic (12-week-old) Tg7 mice. Single-cell RNA-seq (scRNA-seq) indicated that this EMT signature is enriched specifically in β-cells. These molecular changes are associated with a weakening of β-cell: β-cell contacts, increased extracellular matrix (ECM) deposition, and TGFβ-dependent islet fibrosis. We found that the mesenchymal reprogramming of β-cells is explained in part by the downregulation of Pdx1 and its inability to regulate a myriad of epithelial-specific genes expressed in β-cells. Notable among genes transactivated by Pdx1 is Ovol2, which encodes a transcriptional repressor of the EMT transcription factor Zeb2. Following compromised β-cell identity, the reduction in Pdx1 gene expression causes a decrease in Ovol2 protein, triggering mesenchymal reprogramming of β-cells through the induction of Zeb2. We provided evidence that EMT signalling associated with the upregulation of Zeb2 expression is a molecular feature of islets in T2D subjects.

Conclusions

Our study indicates that miR-7-mediated β-cell dedifferentiation induces EMT signalling and a chronic response to tissue injury, which alters the islet microenvironment and predisposes to fibrosis. This research suggests that regulators of EMT signalling may represent novel therapeutic targets for treating β-cell dysfunction and fibrosis in T2D.

2020 impact factor: 7.4

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