GC-globulin/vitamin D-binding protein is required for pancreatic α cell adaptation to metabolic stress
GC-globulin (GC), or vitamin D-binding protein, is a multifunctional protein involved in transport of circulating vitamin 25(OH)D and fatty acids, as well as actin-scavenging. In the pancreatic islets, the gene encoding GC, GC, is highly-localized to glucagon-secreting α cells. Despite this, the role of GC in α cell function is poorly understood. We previously showed that GC is essential for α cell morphology, electrical activity and glucagon secretion. We now show that loss of GC exacerbates α cell failure during metabolic stress. High fat diet-fed GC-/- mice have basal hyperglucagonemia, which is associated with decreased α cell size, impaired glucagon secretion and Ca2+ fluxes, and changes in glucose-dependent F-actin remodelling. Impairments in glucagon secretion can be rescued using exogenous GC to replenish α cell GC levels, increase glucagon granule area and restore the F-actin cytoskeleton. Lastly, GC levels decrease in α cells of donors with type 2 diabetes, which is associated with changes in α cell mass, morphology and glucagon expression. Together, these data demonstrate an important role for GC in α cell adaptation to metabolic stress.