Mutations to the ATP-sensitive K+ channel (KATP channel) that reduce the sensitivity of ATP inhibition cause neonatal diabetes mellitus via suppression of β-cell glucose-stimulated free calcium activity ([Ca2+]i) and insulin secretion. Connexin-36 (Cx36) gap junctions also regulate islet electrical activity; upon knockout of Cx36, β-cells show [Ca2+]i elevations at basal glucose. We hypothesized that in the presence of overactive ATP-insensitive KATP channels, a reduction in Cx36 would allow elevations in glucose-stimulated [Ca2+]i and insulin secretion to improve glucose homeostasis. To test this, we introduced a genetic knockout of Cx36 into mice that express ATP-insensitive KATP channels and measured glucose homeostasis and islet metabolic, electrical, and insulin secretion responses. In the normal presence of Cx36, after expression of ATP-insensitive KATP channels, blood glucose levels rapidly rose to >500 mg/dL. Islets from these mice showed reduced glucose-stimulated [Ca2+]i and no insulin secretion. In mice lacking Cx36 after expression of ATP-insensitive KATP channels, normal glucose levels were maintained. Islets from these mice had near-normal glucose-stimulated [Ca2+]i and insulin secretion. We therefore demonstrate a novel mechanism by which islet function can be recovered in a monogenic model of diabetes. A reduction of gap junction coupling allows sufficient glucose-stimulated [Ca2+]i and insulin secretion to prevent the emergence of diabetes.
This article contains Supplementary Data online at http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.2337/db13-1048/-/DC1.
- Received July 3, 2013.
- Accepted January 8, 2014.
- © 2014 by the American Diabetes Association.
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 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ for details.