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Inhibition of the malate-aspartate shuttle in mouse pancreatic islets abolishes glucagon secretion without affecting insulin secretion

  • Jelena Stamenkovic
  • Lotta Andersson
  • Alice E. Adriaenssens
  • Annika Bagge
  • Vladimir Sharoyko
  • Fiona Gribble
  • Frank Reimann
  • Claes Wollheim
  • Hindrik Mulder
  • Peter Spégel
Publishing year: 2015
Language: English
Pages: 49-63
Publication/Series: Biochemical Journal
Volume: 468
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Portland Press Limited

Abstract english

Altered secretion of insulin as well as glucagon has been implicated in the pathogenesis of Type 2 diabetes (T2D), but the mechanisms controlling glucagon secretion from alpha-cells largely remain unresolved. Therefore, we studied the regulation of glucagon secretion from alpha TC1-6 (alpha TC1 clone 6) cells and compared it with insulin release from INS-1 832/13 cells. We found that INS-1 832/13 and alpha TC1-6 cells respectively secreted insulin and glucagon concentration-dependently in response to glucose. In contrast, tight coupling of glycolytic and mitochondrial metabolism was observed only in INS-1 832/13 cells. Although glycolytic metabolism was similar in the two cell lines, TCA (tricarboxylic acid) cycle metabolism, respiration and ATP levels were less glucose-responsive in alpha TC1-6 cells. Inhibition of the malate-aspartate shuttle, using phenyl succinate (PhS), abolished glucose-provoked ATP production and hormone secretion from alpha TC1-6 but not INS-1 832/13 cells. Blocking the malate-aspartate shuttle increased levels of glycerol 3-phosphate only in INS-1 832/13 cells. Accordingly, relative expression of constituents in the glycerol phosphate shuttle compared with malate-aspartate shuttle was lower in alpha TC1-6 cells. Our data suggest that the glycerol phosphate shuttle augments the malate-aspartate shuttle in INS-1 832/13 but not alpha TC1-6 cells. These results were confirmed in mouse islets, where PhS abrogated secretion of glucagon but not insulin. Furthermore, expression of the rate-limiting enzyme of the glycerol phosphate shuttle was higher in sorted primary beta-than in alpha-cells. Thus, suppressed glycerol phosphate shuttle activity in the alpha-cell may prevent a high rate of glycolysis and consequently glucagon secretion in response to glucose. Accordingly, pyruvate-and lactate-elicited glucagon secretion remains unaffected since their signalling is independent of mitochondrial shuttles.


  • Endocrinology and Diabetes
  • coupling factors
  • glucose metabolism
  • mitochondrial transport
  • islets
  • insulin
  • glucagon


  • Molecular Metabolism
  • Diabetes and Endocrinology
  • ISSN: 0264-6021
Peter Spegel
E-mail: peter [dot] spegel [at] chem [dot] lu [dot] se


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