American Diabetes Association
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DNA methylation Dependent Restriction of Tyrosine Hydroxylase Contributes to Pancreatic β-cell Heterogeneity

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posted on 2023-01-06, 14:58 authored by Nazia Parveen, Jean Kimi Wang, Supriyo Bhattacharya, Janielle Cuala, Mohan Singh Rajkumar, Alexandra E. Butler, Xiwei Wu, Hung-Ping Shih, Senta K. Georgia, Sangeeta Dhawan

The molecular and functional heterogeneity of pancreatic b-cells is well recognized, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Pancreatic islets harbor a subset of b-cells that co-express Tyrosine Hydroxylase (TH), an enzyme involved in synthesis of catecholamines that repress insulin secretion. Restriction of the TH+ b-cells within islets is essential for appropriate function in mice, such that higher proportion of these cells corresponds to reduced insulin secretion. Here, we use these cells as a model to dissect the developmental control of b-cell heterogeneity. We define the specific molecular and metabolic characteristics of TH+ b-cells, and show differences in their developmental restriction in mice and humans. We show that TH expression in b-cells is restricted by DNA methylation during b-cell differentiation. Ablation of de novo DNA methyltransferase Dnmt3a in the embryonic progenitors results in a dramatic increase in the proportion of TH+ b-cells, while b-cell specific ablation of Dnmt3a does not. We demonstrate that maintenance of Th promoter methylation is essential for its continued restriction in postnatal b-cells. Loss of Th promoter methylation in response to chronic overnutrition increases the number of TH+ b-cells, corresponding to impaired b-cell function. These results reveal a regulatory role of DNA methylation in determining b-cell heterogeneity.


We acknowledge funding support from the NIH (R01DK120523 to S.D., R01DK119590 to H.S.), Human Islet Research Network (a New Investigator Award to S.D. via UC4DK104162), The Homer & Gloria Harvey Family Foundation, The Paul Lester Foundation, and The Saban Research Institute (to S.K.G.). Work in the S.D. and H.S. laboratories is also supported by City of Hope (start-up support to S.D. and H.S.), Wanek Family Foundation to Cure Type 1 Diabetes (S.D. and H. S.), and Lions Club Initiative (S.D.).