Author(s): Maechler P, Wollheim CB
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Abstract The hormone insulin is stored in secretory granules and released from the pancreatic beta-cells by exocytosis. In the consensus model of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, ATP is generated by mitochondrial metabolism, promoting closure of ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels, which depolarizes the plasma membrane. Subsequently, opening of voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels increases the cytosolic Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]c) which constitutes the main trigger initiating insulin exocytosis. Nevertheless, the Ca2+ signal alone is not sufficient for sustained secretion. Furthermore, glucose elicits a secretory response under conditions of clamped, elevated [Ca2+]c. A mitochondrial messenger must therefore exist which is distinct from ATP. We have now identified this as glutamate. We show that glucose generates glutamate from beta-cell mitochondria. A membrane-permeant glutamate analogue sensitizes the glucose-evoked secretory response, acting downstream of mitochondrial metabolism. In permeabilized cells, under conditions of fixed [Ca2+]c, added glutamate directly stimulates insulin exocytosis, independently of mitochondrial function. Glutamate uptake by the secretory granules is likely to be involved, as inhibitors of vesicular glutamate transport suppress the glutamate-evoked exocytosis. These results demonstrate that glutamate acts as an intracellular messenger that couples glucose metabolism to insulin secretion.
This article was published in Nature
and referenced in Journal of Diabetes & Metabolism