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H3K4 Trimethylation is Required for Postnatal Pancreatic Endocrine Cell Functional Maturation

posted on 10.08.2021, 17:40 by Stephanie A. Campbell, Jocelyn Bégin, Cassandra L. McDonald, Ben Vanderkruk, Tabea L. Stephan, Brad G. Hoffman
During pancreas development, endocrine progenitors differentiate into the islet-cell subtypes, which undergo further functional maturation in postnatal islet development. In islet b-cells, genes involved in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion are activated and glucose exposure increases the insulin response as b-cells mature. Here, we investigated the role of H3K4 trimethylation in endocrine cell differentiation and functional maturation by disrupting TrxG complex histone methyltransferase activity in mouse endocrine progenitors. In the embryo, genetic inactivation of TrxG component Dpy30 in NEUROG3+ cells did not affect the number of endocrine progenitors or endocrine cell differentiation. H3K4 trimethylation was progressively lost in postnatal islets and the mice displayed elevated non-fasting and fasting glycemia, as well as impaired glucose tolerance by postnatal day 24. Although postnatal endocrine cell proportions were equivalent to controls, islet RNA-sequencing revealed a downregulation of genes involved in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and an upregulation of immature b-cell genes. Comparison of histone modification enrichment profiles in NEUROG3+ endocrine progenitors and mature islets suggested that genes downregulated by loss of H3K4 trimethylation more frequently acquire active histone modifications during maturation. Taken together, these findings suggest that H3K4 trimethylation is required for the activation of genes involved in the functional maturation of pancreatic islet endocrine cells.


This work was funded by the British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (RGPIN-2016-04292) and the Canadian Institute for Health Research (RN310864 – 375894).