Connexins and beta-cell functions
SourceDiabetes Research and Clinical Practice, 99, 3, (2013), pp. 250-259
Article / Letter to editor
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Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice
SubjectIGMD 1: Functional imaging
Proper functioning of pancreatic islets requires that numerous beta-cells are properly coordinated. With evolution, many mechanisms have converged, which now allow individual beta-cells to sense the state of activity of their neighbors as well as the changes taking place in the extracellular medium, and to regulate accordingly their own function. Here, we review one such mechanism for intercellular coordination, which depends on connexins. These integral membrane proteins accumulate at sites of close apposition between adjacent islet cell membranes, referred to as gap junctions. Recent evidence demonstrates that connexin-dependent signaling is relevant for the in vivo control of insulin biosynthesis and release, as well as for the survival of beta-cells under stressing conditions. The data suggest that alterations of this signaling may be implicated in the beta-cell alterations which characterize most forms of diabetes, raising the tantalizing possibility that targeting of the direct intercellular communications beta-cells establish within each pancreatic islet may provide a novel, therapeutically useful strategy.
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