Maf transcription factors in beta cell function

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


Diabetes mellitus is metabolic disorder caused by a defect or lack of beta cell-produced insulin that
controls blood glucose homeostasis. In addition to glucose, insulin secretion is regulated by the
autonomic nervous system (ANS); the neurotransmitter acetylcholine as well as monoamines, such
as dopamine, serotonin, melatonin and norepinephrine. Using a MafA mutant mouse model, we
show that MafA is essential for ANS-mediated insulin secretion. We show that the monoamine
oxidase genes (MaoA, MaoB) and nicotinic receptor genes (ChrnB2, ChrnB4) are expressed in the
islets and that MafA directly activates their transcription. These genes comprise integral parts of the
neurotransmitter signaling pathways. Chrns encode subunits forming the nicotinic acetylcholine
receptors, while Maos metabolize monoamines and thereby control the balance of monoamine
levels that modulate insulin secretion. We show that acetylcholine-mediated insulin secretion is
dependent on nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptor activity. We also show that nicotinic
receptor expression is positively correlated with insulin secretion and glycemic control in human
donor islets. Moreover, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the MAFA binding regions of the
nicotinic receptor gene CHRNB4 are associated with type II diabetes in human subjects. Our data
show that the activity of the MafA transcription factor is crucial for the establishment of beta cell
sensitivity to monoamine signaling. We also identify nicotinic signaling as a novel regulator of insulin
secretion that is associated with type II diabetes.
Furthermore, we identify the Microphthalmia-associated transcription factor (Mitf) as a novel
transcriptional repressor in adult beta cells. Mitf deletion in mice leads to an enhanced insulin
secretory response and the expression of genes central for regulation of blood glucose levels,
insulin and Glut2, and beta cell development and function, Pax4 and Pax6, is significantly higher in
Mitf mutant mice than in their wild type littermates which indicates that Mitf is important for beta cell


  • Elvira Ganic
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Cell and Molecular Biology


  • Beta cell, MafA, type 2 diabetes, insulin secretion, transcription, monoamine oxidase, MaoA, MaoB, nicotinic receptor subunits, nAChRs
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2016 Jan 25
  • Stem Cell Center, Lund University
Print ISBNs978-91-7619-235-1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2016-01-25 Time: 09:30 Place: Segerfalkssalen, Wallenberg Neurocentrum, BMC A10, Lund University External reviewer(s) Name: Serup, Palle Title: Professor Affiliation: Developmental Biology, DanStem, Copenhagen University ---

Related research output

Mazur, M., Winkler, M., Ganic, E., Colberg, J. K., Johansson, J., Bennet, H., Malin Fex, Nuber, U. & Isabella Artner, 2013, In : Diabetes. 62, 8, p. 2834-2842

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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