Mitofusins Mfn1 and Mfn2 are Required to Preserve Glucose- But Not Incretin-Stimulated Beta Cell Connectivity and Insulin Secretion
Mitochondrial glucose metabolism is essential for stimulated insulin release from pancreatic beta cells. Whether mitofusin gene expression, and hence mitochondrial network integrity, is important for glucose or incretin signalling has not previously been explored. Here, we generated mice with beta cell-selective, adult-restricted deletion of the mitofusin genes Mfn1 and Mfn2 (βMfn1/2 dKO). βMfn1/2 dKO mice displayed elevated fed and fasted glycaemia and a >five-fold decrease in plasma insulin. Mitochondrial length, glucose-induced polarisation, ATP synthesis, cytosolic and mitochondrial Ca2+ increases were all reduced in dKO islets. In contrast, oral glucose tolerance was more modestly affected in βMfn1/2 dKO mice and GLP-1 or GIP receptor agonists largely corrected defective GSIS through enhanced EPAC-dependent signalling. Correspondingly, cAMP increases in the cytosol, as measured with an Epac-camps based sensor, were exaggerated in dKO mice. Mitochondrial fusion and fission cycles are thus essential in the beta cell to maintain normal glucose, but not incretin, sensing. These findings broaden our understanding of the roles of mitofusins in beta cells, the potential contributions of altered mitochondrial dynamics to diabetes development and the impact of incretins on this process.