, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 783-791
Date: 24 Jan 2013

The permissive effects of glucose on receptor-operated potentiation of insulin secretion from mouse islets: a role for ERK1/2 activation and cytoskeletal remodelling



Glucose plays two distinct roles in regulating insulin secretion from beta cells—an initiatory role, and a permissive role enabling receptor-operated secretagogues to potentiate glucose-induced insulin secretion. The molecular mechanisms underlying the permissive effects of glucose on receptor-operated insulin secretion remain uncertain. We have investigated the role of extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) activation and consequent cytoskeletal remodelling in this process.


Insulin release was measured from groups of isolated mouse islets using static incubation experiments and subsequent radioimmunoassay of samples. ERK1/2 activation was measured by western blotting of islet protein samples for both phosphorylated and total ERK1/2. Rhodamine–phalloidin staining was used to measure filamentous actin in dispersed primary beta cells.


Inhibition of ERK1/2 blocked potentiation of glucose-induced insulin release by the receptor-operated secretagogues kisspeptin, A568, exendin-4 and JWH015, although the agonists alone had minimal effects on ERK1/2 activation, suggesting a permissive rather than causal role for ERK1/2 activation in receptor-operated insulin release. Following pharmacological activation of ERK1/2 all agonists caused a significant increase in insulin release from islets incubated with sub-stimulatory levels of glucose. ERK1/2 inhibition significantly reduced the glucose-dependent decreases in filamentous actin observed in primary beta cells, while pharmacological dissociation of actin filaments enabled all receptor-operated secretagogues tested to significantly stimulate insulin release from islets at a sub-stimulatory glucose concentration.


Glucose-induced ERK1/2 activation in beta cells mediates the permissive effects of stimulatory glucose concentrations on receptor-operated insulin secretagogues, at least in part through effects on actin depolymerisation and cytoskeletal remodelling.