Induction of Human β-Cell Proliferation and Engraftment Using a Single G1/S Regulatory Molecule, cdk6

  1. Andrew F. Stewart1
  1. 1The Division of Endocrinology, the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
  2. 2Unidad de Investigacion, Hospital Universitario Puerta del Mar, Cadiz, Spain.
  1. Corresponding author: Nathalie M. Fiaschi-Taesch, taeschn{at}


OBJECTIVE Most knowledge on human β-cell cycle control derives from immunoblots of whole human islets, mixtures of β-cells and non-β-cells. We explored the presence, subcellular localization, and function of five early G1/S phase molecules—cyclins D1–3 and cdk 4 and 6—in the adult human β-cell.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS Immunocytochemistry for the five molecules and their relative abilities to drive human β-cell replication were examined. Human β-cell replication, cell death, and islet function in vivo were studied in the diabetic NOD-SCID mouse.

RESULTS Human β-cells contain easily detectable cdks 4 and 6 and cyclin D3 but variable cyclin D1. Cyclin D2 was only marginally detectable. All five were principally cytoplasmic, not nuclear. Overexpression of the five, alone or in combination, led to variable increases in human β-cell replication, with the cdk6/cyclin D3 combination being the most robust (15% versus 0.3% in control β-cells). A single molecule, cdk6, proved to be capable of driving human β-cell replication in vitro and enhancing human islet engraftment/proliferation in vivo, superior to normal islets and as effectively as the combination of cdk6 plus a D-cyclin.

CONCLUSIONS Human β-cells contain abundant cdk4, cdk6, and cyclin D3, but variable amounts of cyclin D1. In contrast to rodent β-cells, they contain little or no detectable cyclin D2. They are primarily cytoplasmic and likely ineffective in basal β-cell replication. Unexpectedly, cyclin D3 and cdk6 overexpression drives human β-cell replication most effectively. Most importantly, a single molecule, cdk6, supports robust human β-cell proliferation and function in vivo.


  • The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. This article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. Section 1734 solely to indicate this fact.

Readers may use this article as long as the work is properly cited, the use is educational and not for profit, and the work is not altered. See for details.

Articles citing this article

| Table of Contents