, Volume 50, Issue 7, pp 1433-1441
Date: 04 May 2007

Human Krüppel-like factor 11 inhibits human proinsulin promoter activity in pancreatic beta cells



The Krüppel-like factor 11 (KLF11; TIEG2), a pancreas-enriched Sp1-like transcription factor, is a known negative regulator of pancreatic exocrine cell growth. A recent study indicated KLF11-induced activation of the human proinsulin promoter (hInsP).

Materials and methods

We investigated the functional role of KLF11 in pancreatic beta cells.


Endogenous KLF11 mRNA expression was found in whole rat pancreas, human pancreatic islets and INS-1E beta cells and was profoundly reduced by high glucose in INS-1E. Cotransfections of INS-1E and beta-TC3 beta cells with a human (h)KLF11 expression plasmid and an hInsP-driven reporter plasmid resulted in a substantial dose-dependent and glucose-independent inhibition of proinsulin promoter activity. 5′-deletion of hInsP demonstrated that hKLF11 acts via DNA sequences upstream of −173 and requires the beta cell-specific transcription machinery, since hKLF11-mediated inhibition of promoter activity was abolished in HEK293 cells. Besides a previously described GC box, we further identified a CACCC box within the hInsP, both putative KLF11-binding motifs. Electrophoretic mobility shift analysis (EMSA) verified binding of in vitro translated hKLF11 to the GC box, but neither hKLF11-induced inhibition nor basal hInsP activity was altered by mutation or 5′-deletion of the GC box. In contrast, CACCC box mutation substantially reduced basal promoter activity and partially diminished hKLF11 inhibition, although binding of in vitro translated hKLF11 to the CACCC box could not be verified by EMSA.


In rodent beta cell lines, we demonstrate hKLF11-overexpression of human proinsulin gene expression and characterise a prominent role for the CACCC box in maintaining basal proinsulin promoter activity.

This work is dedicated to X. Niu who died in December 2006 in China under tragic circumstances. An excellent research talent has died and left us in deep mourning.
An erratum to this article can be found at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00125-007-0770-5