Publications by authors named "Sanda Ljubicic"

11 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Loss of cell-cell and cell-substrate contacts in single pancreatic β-cells divert insulin release to intracellular vesicular compartments.

Biol Cell 2020 Dec 21;112(12):427-438. Epub 2020 Sep 21.

Cell Isolation and Transplantation Center, Department of Surgery, Geneva, University Hospitals and University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background Information: Cell-cell or cell-substrate interactions are lost when cells are dissociated in culture, or during pathophysiological breakdowns, therefore impairing their structure and polarity, and affecting their function. We show that single rat β-cells, cultured under non-adhesive conditions, form intracytoplasmic vacuoles increasing in number and size over time. We characterized these structures and their implication in β-cell function.

Results: Ultrastructurally, the vacuoles resemble vesicular apical compartments and are delimited by a membrane, containing microvilli and expressing markers of the plasma membrane, including glucose transporter 2 and actin. When insulin secretion is stimulated, insulin accumulates in the lumen of the vacuoles. By contrast, when the cells are incubated under low calcium levels, the hormone is undetectable in vesicular compartments. Insulin release studies from single cells revealed that vacuole-containing cells release less insulin as compared to control cells. When added to the medium, a non-permeant fluid phase marker becomes trapped within vacuoles. Inhibition of vesicular trafficking and exocytosis as well as dynamin-dependent endocytosis changed the percentage of vacuole-containing cells, suggesting that both endocytic and exocytic track contribute to their formation.

Conclusions: These results suggest that loss of cell-cell and cell-substrate contacts in isolated β-cells affect normal vesicular trafficking and redirects insulin secretion to intracellular vesicular compartments.

Significance: Our study reveals for the first time that single β-cells develop vacuolar compartments when cultured in suspension and redirect their insulin secretion to these vacuoles. This may underlie a compensatory process for cultured cells who lost their interactions with adhesive substrates or neighbouring cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/boc.202000043DOI Listing
December 2020

Engineering of Primary Pancreatic Islet Cell Spheroids for Three-dimensional Culture or Transplantation: A Methodological Comparative Study.

Cell Transplant 2020 Jan-Dec;29:963689720937292

Cell Isolation and Transplantation Center, Department of Surgery, Geneva University Hospitals and University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.

Three-dimensional (3D) cell culture by engineering spheroids has gained increasing attention in recent years because of the potential advantages of such systems over conventional two-dimensional (2D) tissue culture. Benefits include the ability of 3D to provide a more physiologically relevant environment, for the generation of uniform, size-controlled spheroids with organ-like microarchitecture and morphology. In recent years, different techniques have been described for the generation of cellular spheroids. Here, we have compared the efficiency of four different methods of islet cell aggregation. Rat pancreatic islets were dissociated into single cells before reaggregation. Spheroids were generated either by (i) self-aggregation in nonadherent petri dishes, (ii) in 3D hanging drop culture, (iii) in agarose microwell plates or (iv) using the Sphericalplate 5D™. Generated spheroids consisted of 250 cells, except for the self-aggregation method, where the number of cells per spheroid cannot be controlled. Cell function and morphology were assessed by glucose stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) test and histology, respectively. The quantity of material, labor intensity, and time necessary for spheroid production were compared between the different techniques. Results were also compared with native islets. Native islets and self-aggregated spheroids showed an important heterogeneity in terms of size and shape and were larger than spheroids generated with the other methods. Spheroids generated in hanging drops, in the Sphericalplate 5D™, and in agarose microwell plates were homogeneous, with well-defined round shape and a mean diameter of 90 µm. GSIS results showed improved insulin secretion in response to glucose in comparison with native islets and self-aggregated spheroids. Spheroids can be generated using different techniques and each of them present advantages and inconveniences. For islet cell aggregation, we recommend, based on our results, to use the hanging drop technique, the agarose microwell plates, or the Sphericalplate 5D™ depending on the experiments, the latter being the only option available for large-scale spheroids production.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0963689720937292DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7563811PMC
August 2020

S100A9 extends lifespan in insulin deficiency.

Nat Commun 2019 08 7;10(1):3545. Epub 2019 Aug 7.

Diabetes Center of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva 4, Geneva, Switzerland.

Tens of millions suffer from insulin deficiency (ID); a defect leading to severe metabolic imbalance and death. The only means for management of ID is insulin therapy; yet, this approach is sub-optimal and causes life-threatening hypoglycemia. Hence, ID represents a great medical and societal challenge. Here we report that S100A9, also known as Calgranulin B or Myeloid-Related Protein 14 (MRP14), is a leptin-induced circulating cue exerting beneficial anti-diabetic action. In murine models of ID, enhanced expression of S100A9 alone (i.e. without administered insulin and/or leptin) slightly improves hyperglycemia, and normalizes key metabolic defects (e.g. hyperketonemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and increased hepatic fatty acid oxidation; FAO), and extends lifespan by at least a factor of two. Mechanistically, we report that Toll-Like Receptor 4 (TLR4) is required, at least in part, for the metabolic-improving and pro-survival effects of S100A9. Thus, our data identify the S100A9/TLR4 axis as a putative target for ID care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11498-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6686003PMC
August 2019

Light Entrains Diurnal Changes in Insulin Sensitivity of Skeletal Muscle via Ventromedial Hypothalamic Neurons.

Cell Rep 2019 05;27(8):2385-2398.e3

Diabetes Center of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland; Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, 1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland; Center for Epigenetics and Metabolism, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA 92607, USA. Electronic address:

Loss of synchrony between geophysical time and insulin action predisposes to metabolic diseases. Yet the brain and peripheral pathways linking proper insulin effect to diurnal changes in light-dark and feeding-fasting inputs are poorly understood. Here, we show that the insulin sensitivity of several metabolically relevant tissues fluctuates during the 24 h period. For example, in mice, the insulin sensitivity of skeletal muscle, liver, and adipose tissue is lowest during the light period. Mechanistically, by performing loss- and gain-of-light-action and food-restriction experiments, we demonstrate that SIRT1 in steroidogenic factor 1 (SF1) neurons of the ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH) convey photic inputs to entrain the biochemical and metabolic action of insulin in skeletal muscle. These findings uncover a critical light-SF1-neuron-skeletal-muscle axis that acts to finely tune diurnal changes in insulin sensitivity and reveal a light regulatory mechanism of skeletal muscle function.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2019.04.093DOI Listing
May 2019

Hepatic protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor gamma links obesity-induced inflammation to insulin resistance.

Nat Commun 2017 11 28;8(1):1820. Epub 2017 Nov 28.

Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, Faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva, 1211, Geneva 4, Switzerland.

Obesity-induced inflammation engenders insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) but the inflammatory effectors linking obesity to insulin resistance are incompletely understood. Here, we show that hepatic expression of Protein Tyrosine Phosphatase Receptor Gamma (PTPR-γ) is stimulated by inflammation in obese/T2DM mice and positively correlates with indices of inflammation and insulin resistance in humans. NF-κB binds to the promoter of Ptprg and is required for inflammation-induced PTPR-γ expression. PTPR-γ loss-of-function lowers glycemia and insulinemia by enhancing insulin-stimulated suppression of endogenous glucose production. These phenotypes are rescued by re-expression of Ptprg only in liver of mice lacking Ptprg globally. Hepatic PTPR-γ overexpression that mimics levels found in obesity is sufficient to cause severe hepatic and systemic insulin resistance. We propose hepatic PTPR-γ as a link between obesity-induced inflammation and insulin resistance and as potential target for treatment of T2DM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-017-02074-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5703876PMC
November 2017

Phospho-BAD BH3 mimicry protects β cells and restores functional β cell mass in diabetes.

Cell Rep 2015 Feb 29;10(4):497-504. Epub 2015 Jan 29.

Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA; Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Electronic address:

Strategies that simultaneously enhance the survival and glucose responsiveness of insulin-producing β cells will greatly augment β cell replacement therapies in type 1 diabetes (T1D). We show that genetic and pharmacologic mimetics of the phosphorylated BCL-2 homology 3 (BH3) domain of BAD impart β-cell-autonomous protective effects in the face of stress stimuli relevant to β cell demise in T1D. Importantly, these benefits translate into improved engraftment of donor islets in transplanted diabetic mice, increased β cell viability in islet grafts, restoration of insulin release, and diabetes reversal. Survival of β cells in this setting is not merely due to the inability of phospho-BAD to suppress prosurvival BCL-2 proteins but requires its activation of the glucose-metabolizing enzyme glucokinase. Thus, BAD phospho-BH3 mimetics may prove useful in the restoration of functional β cell mass in diabetes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2014.12.056DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4991214PMC
February 2015

Adipsin is an adipokine that improves β cell function in diabetes.

Cell 2014 Jul;158(1):41-53

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA. Electronic address:

A hallmark of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is the development of pancreatic β cell failure, which results in insulinopenia and hyperglycemia. We show that the adipokine adipsin has a beneficial role in maintaining β cell function. Animals genetically lacking adipsin have glucose intolerance due to insulinopenia; isolated islets from these mice have reduced glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Replenishment of adipsin to diabetic mice treated hyperglycemia by boosting insulin secretion. We identify C3a, a peptide generated by adipsin, as a potent insulin secretagogue and show that the C3a receptor is required for these beneficial effects of adipsin. C3a acts on islets by augmenting ATP levels, respiration, and cytosolic free Ca(2+). Finally, we demonstrate that T2DM patients with β cell failure are deficient in adipsin. These findings indicate that the adipsin/C3a pathway connects adipocyte function to β cell physiology, and manipulation of this molecular switch may serve as a therapy in T2DM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2014.06.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4128197PMC
July 2014

A phospho-BAD BH3 helix activates glucokinase by a mechanism distinct from that of allosteric activators.

Nat Struct Mol Biol 2014 Jan 8;21(1):36-42. Epub 2013 Dec 8.

1] Department of Cancer Biology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. [2] Department of Cell Biology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Glucokinase (GK) is a glucose-phosphorylating enzyme that regulates insulin release and hepatic metabolism, and its loss of function is implicated in diabetes pathogenesis. GK activators (GKAs) are attractive therapeutics in diabetes; however, clinical data indicate that their benefits can be offset by hypoglycemia, owing to marked allosteric enhancement of the enzyme's glucose affinity. We show that a phosphomimetic of the BCL-2 homology 3 (BH3) α-helix derived from human BAD, a GK-binding partner, increases the enzyme catalytic rate without dramatically changing glucose affinity, thus providing a new mechanism for pharmacologic activation of GK. Remarkably, BAD BH3 phosphomimetic mediates these effects by engaging a new region near the enzyme's active site. This interaction increases insulin secretion in human islets and restores the function of naturally occurring human GK mutants at the active site. Thus, BAD phosphomimetics may serve as a new class of GKAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nsmb.2717DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4084830PMC
January 2014

The GTPase Rab37 Participates in the Control of Insulin Exocytosis.

PLoS One 2013 27;8(6):e68255. Epub 2013 Jun 27.

Department of Fundamental Neurosciences, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Rab37 belongs to a subclass of Rab GTPases regulating exocytosis, including also Rab3a and Rab27a. Proteomic studies indicate that Rab37 is associated with insulin-containing large dense core granules of pancreatic β-cells. In agreement with these observations, we detected Rab37 in extracts of β-cell lines and human pancreatic islets and confirmed by confocal microscopy the localization of the GTPase on insulin-containing secretory granules. We found that, as is the case for Rab3a and Rab27a, reduction of Rab37 levels by RNA interference leads to impairment in glucose-induced insulin secretion and to a decrease in the number of granules in close apposition to the plasma membrane. Pull-down experiments revealed that, despite similar functional effects, Rab37 does not interact with known Rab3a or Rab27a effectors and is likely to operate through a different mechanism. Exposure of insulin-secreting cells to proinflammatory cytokines, fatty acids or oxidized low-density lipoproteins, mimicking physiopathological conditions that favor the development of diabetes, resulted in a decrease in Rab37 expression. Our data identify Rab37 as an additional component of the machinery governing exocytosis of β-cells and suggest that impaired expression of this GTPase may contribute to defective insulin release in pre-diabetic and diabetic conditions.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0068255PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3694898PMC
October 2017

The GTPase RalA regulates different steps of the secretory process in pancreatic beta-cells.

PLoS One 2009 Nov 5;4(11):e7770. Epub 2009 Nov 5.

Department of Cell Biology and Morphology, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

Background: RalA and RalB are multifuntional GTPases involved in a variety of cellular processes including proliferation, oncogenic transformation and membrane trafficking. Here we investigated the mechanisms leading to activation of Ral proteins in pancreatic beta-cells and analyzed the impact on different steps of the insulin-secretory process.

Methodology/principal Findings: We found that RalA is the predominant isoform expressed in pancreatic islets and insulin-secreting cell lines. Silencing of this GTPase in INS-1E cells by RNA interference led to a decrease in secretagogue-induced insulin release. Real-time measurements by fluorescence resonance energy transfer revealed that RalA activation in response to secretagogues occurs within 3-5 min and reaches a plateau after 10-15 min. The activation of the GTPase is triggered by increases in intracellular Ca2+ and cAMP and is prevented by the L-type voltage-gated Ca2+ channel blocker Nifedipine and by the protein kinase A inhibitor H89. Defective insulin release in cells lacking RalA is associated with a decrease in the secretory granules docked at the plasma membrane detected by Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence microscopy and with a strong impairment in Phospholipase D1 activation in response to secretagogues. RalA was found to be activated by RalGDS and to be severely hampered upon silencing of this GDP/GTP exchange factor. Accordingly, INS-1E cells lacking RalGDS displayed a reduction in hormone secretion induced by secretagogues and in the number of insulin-containing granules docked at the plasma membrane.

Conclusions/significance: Taken together, our data indicate that RalA activation elicited by the exchange factor RalGDS in response to a rise in intracellular Ca2+ and cAMP controls hormone release from pancreatic beta-cell by coordinating the execution of different events in the secretory pathway.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0007770PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2766836PMC
November 2009

Dopamine D2-like receptors are expressed in pancreatic beta cells and mediate inhibition of insulin secretion.

J Biol Chem 2005 Nov 29;280(44):36824-32. Epub 2005 Aug 29.

Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, University Medical Center, Geneva University Hospitals, CH-1211 Geneva 4, Switzerland.

Dopamine signaling is mediated by five cloned receptors, grouped into D1-like (D1 and D5) and D2-like (D2, D3 and D4) families. We identified by reverse transcription-PCR the presence of dopamine receptors from both families in INS-1E insulin-secreting cells as well as in rodent and human isolated islets. D2 receptor expression was confirmed by immunodetection revealing localization on insulin secretory granules of INS-1E and primary rodent and human beta cells. We then tested potential effects mediated by the identified receptors on beta cell function. Dopamine (10 microM) and the D2-like receptor agonist quinpirole (5 microM) inhibited glucose-stimulated insulin secretion tested in several models, i.e. INS-1E beta cells, fluorescence-activated cell-sorted primary rat beta cells, and pancreatic islets of rat, mouse, and human origin. Insulin exocytosis is controlled by metabolism coupled to cytosolic calcium changes. Measurements of glucose-induced mitochondrial hyperpolarization and ATP generation showed that dopamine and D2-like agonists did not inhibit glucose metabolism. On the other hand, dopamine decreased cell membrane depolarization as well as cytosolic calcium increases evoked by glucose stimulation in INS-1E beta cells. These results show for the first time that dopamine receptors are expressed in pancreatic beta cells. Dopamine inhibited glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, an effect that could be ascribed to D2-like receptors. Regarding the molecular mechanisms implicated in dopamine-mediated inhibition of insulin release, our results point to distal steps in metabolism-secretion coupling. Thus, the role played by dopamine in glucose homeostasis might involve dopamine receptors, expressed in pancreatic beta cells, modulating insulin release.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M505560200DOI Listing
November 2005