Monoamine and acetylcholine neurotransmitters from the autonomic nervous system (ANS) regulate insulin secretion in pancreatic islets. The molecular mechanisms controlling neurotransmitter signaling in islet β cells and their impact on diabetes development are only partially understood. Using a glucose-intolerant, MafA-deficient mouse model, we demonstrate that MAFA controls ANS-mediated insulin secretion by activating the transcription of nicotinic (ChrnB2 and ChrnB4) and adrenergic (Adra2A) receptor genes, which are integral parts of acetylcholine- and monoamine-signaling pathways. We show that acetylcholine-mediated insulin secretion requires nicotinic signaling and that nicotinic receptor expression is positively correlated with insulin secretion and glycemic control in human donor islets. Moreover, polymorphisms spanning MAFA-binding regions within the human CHRNB4 gene are associated with type 2 diabetes. Our data show that MAFA transcriptional activity is required for establishing β cell sensitivity to neurotransmitter signaling and identify nicotinic signaling as a modulator of insulin secretion impaired in type 2 diabetes.
- Cell and Molecular Biology