Presence of immunogenic alternatively spliced insulin gene product in human pancreatic delta cells

René van Tienhoven, Maria J.L. Kracht, Arno R. van der Slik, Sofia Thomaidou, Anouk H.G. Wolters, Ben N.G. Giepmans, Juan Pablo Romero Riojas, Michael S. Nelson, Françoise Carlotti, Eelco J.P. de Koning, Rob C. Hoeben, Arnaud Zaldumbide, Bart O. Roep*

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

4 Citaten (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


Aims/hypothesis: Transcriptome analyses revealed insulin-gene-derived transcripts in non-beta endocrine islet cells. We studied alternative splicing of human INS mRNA in pancreatic islets. Methods: Alternative splicing of insulin pre-mRNA was determined by PCR analysis performed on human islet RNA and single-cell RNA-seq analysis. Antisera were generated to detect insulin variants in human pancreatic tissue using immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy and single-cell western blot to confirm the expression of insulin variants. Cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) activation was determined by MIP-1β release. Results: We identified an alternatively spliced INS product. This variant encodes the complete insulin signal peptide and B chain and an alternative C-terminus that largely overlaps with a previously identified defective ribosomal product of INS. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed that the translation product of this INS-derived splice transcript was detectable in somatostatin-producing delta cells but not in beta cells; this was confirmed by light and electron microscopy. Expression of this alternatively spliced INS product activated preproinsulin-specific CTLs in vitro. The exclusive presence of this alternatively spliced INS product in delta cells may be explained by its clearance from beta cells by insulin-degrading enzyme capturing its insulin B chain fragment and a lack of insulin-degrading enzyme expression in delta cells. Conclusions/interpretation: Our data demonstrate that delta cells can express an INS product derived from alternative splicing, containing both the diabetogenic insulin signal peptide and B chain, in their secretory granules. We propose that this alternative INS product may play a role in islet autoimmunity and pathology, as well as endocrine or paracrine function or islet development and endocrine destiny, and transdifferentiation between endocrine cells. INS promoter activity is not confined to beta cells and should be used with care when assigning beta cell identity and selectivity. Data availability: The full EM dataset is available via (for review: Single-cell RNA-seq data was made available by Segerstolpe et al [13] and can be found at The RNA and protein sequence of INS-splice was uploaded to GenBank (BankIt2546444 INS-splice OM489474). Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)884-896
Aantal pagina's13
Nummer van het tijdschrift5
StatusPublished - mei-2023

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