Pancreatic β cell failure in type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is attributed to perturbations of the β cell’s transcriptional landscape resulting in impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Recent studies identified SLC4A4 (a gene encoding an electrogenic Na+-coupled HCO3– cotransporter and intracellular pH regulator, NBCe1) as one of the misexpressed genes in β cells of patients with T2DM. Thus, in the current study, we set out to test the hypothesis that misexpression of SLC4A4/NBCe1 in T2DM β cells contributes to β cell dysfunction and impaired glucose homeostasis. To address this hypothesis, we first confirmed induction of SLC4A4/NBCe1 expression in β cells of patients with T2DM and demonstrated that its expression was associated with loss of β cell transcriptional identity, intracellular alkalinization, and β cell dysfunction. In addition, we generated a β cell–selective Slc4a4/NBCe1-KO mouse model and found that these mice were protected from diet-induced metabolic stress and β cell dysfunction. Importantly, improved glucose tolerance and enhanced β cell function in Slc4a4/NBCe1-deficient mice were due to augmented mitochondrial function and increased expression of genes regulating β cell identity and function. These results suggest that increased β cell expression of SLC4A4/NBCe1 in T2DM plays a contributory role in promotion of β cell failure and should be considered as a potential therapeutic target.
Matthew R. Brown, Heather Holmes, Kuntol Rakshit, Naureen Javeed, Tracy K. Her, Alison A. Stiller, Satish Sen, Gary E. Shull, Y.S. Prakash, Michael F. Romero, Aleksey V. Matveyenko