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Microtubules Regulate Localization and Availability of Insulin Granules in Pancreatic Beta Cells


Bracey KM , Ho KH , Yampolsky D , Gu G , Kaverina I , Holmes WR , . Biophysical journal. 2019 10 31; 118(1). 193-206


Two key prerequisites for glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) in β cells are the proximity of insulin granules to the plasma membrane and their anchoring or docking to the plasma membrane (PM). Although recent evidence has indicated that both of these factors are altered in the context of diabetes, it is unclear what regulates localization of insulin granules and their interactions with the PM within single cells. Here, we demonstrate that microtubule (MT)-motor-mediated transport dynamics have a critical role in regulating both factors. Super-resolution imaging shows that whereas the MT cytoskeleton resembles a random meshwork in the cells’ interior, MTs near the cell surface are preferentially aligned with the PM. Computational modeling suggests two consequences of this alignment. First, this structured MT network preferentially withdraws granules from the PM. Second, the binding and transport of insulin granules by MT motors prevents their stable anchoring to the PM. These findings suggest the MT cytoskeleton may negatively regulate GSIS by both limiting the amount of insulin proximal to the PM and preventing or breaking interactions between the PM and the remaining nearby insulin granules. These results predict that altering MT network structure in β cells can be used to tune GSIS. Thus, our study points to the potential of an alternative therapeutic strategy for diabetes by targeting specific MT regulators.

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