MicroRNA Expression in Alpha and Beta Cells of Human Pancreatic Islets

Dagmar Klein, Ryosuke Misawa, Valia Bravo-Egana, Nancy Vargas, Samuel Rosero, Julieta Piroso, Hirohito Ichii, Oliver Umland, Jiang Zhijie, Nicholas Tsinoremas, Camillo Ricordi, Luca Inverardi, Juan Domínguez-Bendala, Ricardo L. Pastori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


microRNAs (miRNAs) play an important role in pancreatic development and adult β-cell physiology. Our hypothesis is based on the assumption that each islet cell type has a specific pattern of miRNA expression. We sought to determine the profile of miRNA expression in α-and β-cells, the main components of pancreatic islets, because this analysis may lead to a better understanding of islet gene regulatory pathways. Highly enriched (>98%) subsets of human α-and β-cells were obtained by flow cytometric sorting after intracellular staining with c-peptide and glucagon antibody. The method of sorting based on intracellular staining is possible because miRNAs are stable after fixation. MiRNA expression levels were determined by quantitative high throughput PCR-based miRNA array platform screening. Most of the miRNAs were preferentially expressed in β-cells. From the total of 667 miRNAs screened, the Significant Analysis of Microarray identified 141 miRNAs, of which only 7 were expressed more in α-cells (α-miRNAs) and 134 were expressed more in β-cells (β-miRNAs). Bioinformatic analysis identified potential targets of β-miRNAs analyzing the Beta Cell Gene Atlas, described in the T1Dbase, the web platform, supporting the type 1 diabetes (T1D) community. cMaf, a transcription factor regulating glucagon expression expressed selectively in α-cells (TFα) is targeted by β-miRNAs; miR-200c, miR-125b and miR-182. Min6 cells treated with inhibitors of these miRNAs show an increased expression of cMaf RNA. Conversely, over expression of miR-200c, miR-125b or miR-182 in the mouse alpha cell line αTC6 decreases the level of cMAF mRNA and protein. MiR-200c also inhibits the expression of Zfpm2, a TFα that inhibits the PI3K signaling pathway, at both RNA and protein levels. In conclusion, we identified miRNAs differentially expressed in pancreatic α- and β-cells and their potential transcription factor targets that could add new insights into different aspects of islet biology and pathophysiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere55064
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 29 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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