Author(s): da Silva Xavier G, Loder MK, McDonald A, Tarasov AI, Carzaniga R
OBJECTIVE: Polymorphisms in the human TCF7L2 gene are associated with reduced insulin secretion and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. However, the mechanisms by which TCF7L2 affect insulin secretion are still unclear. We define the effects of TCF7L2 expression level on mature beta-cell function and suggest a potential mechanism for its actions. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: TCF7L2 expression in rodent islets and beta-cell lines was altered using RNAi or adenoviral transduction. Beta-cell gene profiles were measured by quantitative real-time PCR and the effects on intracellular signaling and exocytosis by live cell imaging, electron microscopy, and patch clamp electrophysiology. RESULTS: Reducing TCF7L2 expression levels by RNAi decreased glucose- but not KCl-induced insulin secretion. The glucose-induced increments in both ATP/ADP ratio and cytosolic free Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) were increased compared with controls. Overexpression of TCF7L2 exerted minor inhibitory effects on glucose-regulated changes in [Ca2+]i and insulin release. Gene expression profiling in TCF7L2-silenced cells revealed increased levels of mRNA encoding syntaxin 1A but decreased Munc18-1 and ZnT8 mRNA. Whereas the number of morphologically docked vesicles was unchanged by TCF7L2 suppression, secretory granule movement increased and capacitance changes decreased, indicative of defective vesicle fusion. CONCLUSION: TCF7L2 is involved in maintaining expression of beta-cell genes regulating secretory granule fusion. Defective insulin exocytosis may thus underlie increased diabetes incidence in carriers of the at-risk TCF7L2 alleles.