, Volume 57, Issue 7, pp 1410–1419 | Cite as

The nucleotide exchange factor SIL1 is required for glucose-stimulated insulin secretion from mouse pancreatic beta cells in vivo

  • Arne A. IttnerEmail author
  • Josefine Bertz
  • Tse Yan Becky Chan
  • Janet van Eersel
  • Patsie Polly
  • Lars M. Ittner



Regulation of insulin secretion along the secretory pathway is incompletely understood. We addressed the expression of SIL1, a nucleotide exchange factor for the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) chaperone glucose-regulated protein 78 kD (GRP78), in pancreatic beta cells and investigated whether or not SIL1 is involved in beta cell function.


SIL1 expression was analysed by immunoblotting and immunofluorescence. Metabolic and islet variables, including glucose tolerance, beta cell mass, insulin secretion, islet ultrastructure, insulin content and levels of ER stress marker proteins, were addressed in Sil1 knockout (Sil1 −/−) mice. Insulin, proinsulin and C-peptide release was addressed in Sil1 −/− islets, and SIL1 overexpression or knockdown was explored in MIN6 cells in vitro. Models of type 1 diabetes and insulin resistance were induced in Sil1 −/− mice by administration of streptozotocin (STZ) and a high-fat diet (HFD), respectively.


We show that SIL1 is expressed in pancreatic beta cells and is required for islet insulin content, islet sizing, glucose tolerance and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in vivo. Levels of pancreatic ER stress markers are increased in Sil1 −/− mice, and Sil1 −/− beta cell ER is ultrastructurally compromised. Isolated Sil1 −/− islets show lower proinsulin and insulin content and impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Modulation of SIL1 protein levels in MIN6 cells correlates with changes in insulin content and secreted insulin. Furthermore, Sil1 −/− mice are more susceptible to STZ-induced type 1 diabetes with increased apoptosis. Upon HFD feeding, Sil1 −/− mice show markedly lower insulin secretion and exacerbated glucose intolerance compared with control mice. Surprisingly, however, HFD-fed Sil1 −/− mice display pronounced islet hyperplasia with low amounts of insulin in total pancreas.


These results reveal a novel role for the nucleotide exchange factor SIL1 in pancreatic beta cell function under physiological and disease conditions such as diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.


Endoplasmic reticulum Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion High-fat diet Islet size Pancreatic islets of Langerhans Proinsulin Streptozotocin 



Binding immunoglobulin protein


CCAAT-enhancer-binding protein homologous protein


Endoplasmic reticulum


Glucose-regulated protein 78 kDa


High-fat diet


Protein kinase RNA-like endoplasmic reticulum kinase


Short hairpin RNA


Short hairpin Sil1




Transmission electron microscopy


X-box binding protein 1



The authors thank Dr J.-I. Miyazaki (Osaka University, Osaka, Japan) for providing the MIN6 cell line and S. Fraser (Electron Microscope Unit, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia) for technical assistance.

Duality of interest

The authors declare that there is no duality of interest associated with this manuscript.

Contribution statement

AI designed experiments, analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. JB, BC and JvE performed experiments, analysed the data and drafted parts of manuscript. PP and LMI designed study and experiments and wrote the manuscript. All authors approved the final version. AI is responsible for the integrity of the work as a whole.


The research was supported by funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), the Australian Research Council (ARC) and the University of New South Wales. LMI is a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow.

Supplementary material

125_2014_3230_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (59 kb)
ESM Methods (PDF 58 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arne A. Ittner
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Josefine Bertz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tse Yan Becky Chan
    • 2
  • Janet van Eersel
    • 1
    • 2
  • Patsie Polly
    • 1
    • 4
  • Lars M. Ittner
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Medical SciencesUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Faculty of MedicineUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Neuroscience Research AustraliaSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Department of PathologyUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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