Transcription factor 7-like 2 regulates β-cell survival and function in human pancreatic islets

Luan Shu, Nadine S. Sauter, Fabienne T. Schulthess, Aleksey V. Matveyenko, Jose Oberholzer, Kathrin Maedler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE-Type 2 diabetes is characterized by impaired insulin secretion in response to increased metabolic demand. This defect in β-cell compensation seems to result from the interplay between environmental factors and genetic predisposition. Genome-wide association studies reveal that common variants in transcription factor 7-like 2 (TCF7L2) are associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The aim of the present study was to establish whether TCF7L2 plays a role in β-cell function and/or survival. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS- To investigate the effects of TCFL7L2 depletion, isolated islets were exposed to TCF7L2 small interfering RNA (siRNA) versus scrambled siRNA, and β-cell survival and function were examined. For TCF7L2 overexpression, islets were cultured in glucose concentrations of 5.5-33.3 mmol/1 and the cytokine mix interleukin-1β/γ-interferon with or without overexpression of TCF7L2. Subsequently, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS), β-cell apoptosis [by transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling assay and Western blotting for poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase and Caspase-3 cleavage], and β-cell proliferation (by Ki67 immunostaining) were analyzed. RESULTS-Depleting TCF7L2 by siRNA resulted in a 5.1-fold increase in β-cell apoptosis, 2.2-fold decrease in β-cell proliferation (P < 0.001), and 2.6-fold decrease in GSIS (P < 0.01) in human islets. Similarly, loss of TCF7L2 resulted in impaired β-cell function in mouse islets. In contrast, overexpression of TCF7L2 protected islets from glucose and cytokine-induced apoptosis and impaired function. CONCLUSIONS-TCF7L2 is required for maintaining GSIS and β-cell survival. Changes in the level of active TCF7L2 in β-cells from carriers of at-risk allele may be the reason for defective insulin secretion and progression of type 2 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)645-653
Number of pages9
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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