Aberrant Processing of Human Proislet Amyloid Polypeptide Results in Increased Amyloid Formation

  1. Johan F. Paulsson12 and
  2. Gunilla T. Westermark12
  1. 1Department of Biomedicine and Surgery, Division of Cell Biology, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  2. 2Diabetes Research Center, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Gunilla T. Westermark, PhD, Cell Biology, Linköping University, SE 581 85 Linköping, Sweden. E-mail: gunwe{at}ibk.liu.se


The amyloid present in the islets of Langerhans in type 2 diabetes is polymerized islet amyloid polypeptide (IAPP). The precursor protein proIAPP is posttranslationally modified, a process involving the removal of NH2- and COOH-terminal flanking peptides. This step is performed by the prohormone convertases PC2 and PC1/3. PC2 processes proIAPP preferably at the NH2-terminal processing site, and PC1/3 processes proIAPP exclusively at the COOH-terminal site. Little is known regarding the exact circumstances leading to islet amyloid formation. In this study, we have examined the possible significance of aberrant processing of proIAPP on amyloid formation in several in vitro cellular systems. In our studies, human (h)-proIAPP was transfected into β-TC-6 cells expressing both prohormone convertases and in which proIAPP is processed into IAPP. Additionally, h-proIAPP was transfected into three different pituitary-derived cell lines with different prohormone convertase profiles: AtT-20 cells (deficient in PC2), GH3 cells (deficient in PC1/3), and GH4C1 cells (deficient in both convertases). We followed the processing of h-proIAPP with antibodies specific for the respective cleavage sites and stained the cells with Congo red to verify the accumulation of amyloid. Incomplete processing of h-proIAPP that occurs in AtT-20 and GH4C1 cells resulted in the formation of intracellular amyloid. No amyloid developed in β-TC-6 and GH3 cells lines with full processing of proIAPP. An intracellular increase in proIAPP and/or its metabolic products may thus promote intracellular amyloid formation, thereby causing cell death. When extracellularly exposed, this amyloid might act as template for continuing amyloid formation from processed IAPP released from the surrounding β-cells.


    • Accepted April 11, 2005.
    • Received March 26, 2004.
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