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Kay E Garnett, Philip Chapman, Julie A Chambers, Ian D Waddell, and David S W Boam

The β-cell failure that characterises type 2 diabetes is likely to involve altered expression of many genes. We aimed to identify global changes in gene expression underlying β-cell dysfunction in pre-diabetic Zucker Diabetic Fatty rat islets, followed by functional studies to verify our findings. Gene expression profiles in islets from 6-week-old Zucker Diabetic Fatty rats and Zucker Fatty rat controls were analysed using Affymetrix microarrays. Totally 977 genes were found to be differentially regulated, comprising large groups of membrane and structural proteins, kinases, channels, receptors, transporters, growth factors and transcription factors. We are particularly interested in transcription factors, which can have profound effects on cellular function. Thus a subset of those with no role yet defined in the β-cell was selected for further study namely the immediate-early gene Egr-1, PAG608, rCGR19 and mSin3b. Tissue specificity of these factors varied but interestingly Egr-1 expression was highly enriched in the pancreatic islet. To determine a possible role of Egr-1 in the β-cell, Egr-1 expression in INS-1 cells was silenced using RNA interference (RNAi). Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in these cells was then measured using ELISA and cell proliferation was measured by [3H]thymidine incorporation. Small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated silencing of the Egr-1 gene inhibited its induction by glucose but had no observable effect on glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. However, Egr-1 gene silencing did inhibit proliferation of INS-1 cells in a glucose-independent manner. Our studies have revealed a role for Egr-1 and suggest that reduced Egr-1 gene expression may contribute to decreased β-cell proliferation and the consequent β-cell failure observed in the later stages of type 2 diabetes.

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G Quinn, D S W Boam, J R E Davis, J D Glazier, P Mylona, K Sides, and C P Sibley


A transcriptional enhancer which has a consensus binding sequence for transcription enhancer factor-1 (TEF-1) has been found 3′ of the hPL3 gene. We examined whether TEF-1 is expressed by the human placenta and whether such expression is co-ordinated with that of human placental lactogen (hPL). Probing Northern blots of total RNA from first trimester and term placenta, the choriocarcinoma-derived cell line JAr and primary cultured cytotrophoblast cells with a cDNA for TEF-1 revealed transcripts of 12–13 kb and 3–4 kb. The level of TEF-1 expression was the same in first trimester as compared with term placenta and in undifferentiated JAr as compared with differentiated cytotrophoblast cells. hPL expression was tenfold higher in term compared with first trimester placenta and, whilst detectable in cytotrophoblast cells, was undetectable in JAr cells. These data show that TEF-1 is expressed by the placenta but is not co-ordinated with hPL expression.