We previously reported that pancreatic islet beta-cells from GLUT2-null mice lost the first phase but preserved the second phase of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS). Furthermore, we showed that the remaining secretory activity required glucose uptake and metabolism because it can be blocked by inhibition of oxidative phosphorylation. Here, we extend these previous studies by analyzing, in GLUT2-null islets, glucose transporter isoforms and glucokinase expression and by measuring glucose usage, GSIS, and glucose-stimulated insulin mRNA biosynthesis. We show that in the absence of GLUT2, no compensatory expression of either GLUT1 or GLUT3 is observed and that glucokinase is expressed at normal levels. Glucose usage by isolated islets was increased between 1 and 6 mmol/l glucose but was not further increased between 6 and 20 mmol/l glucose. Parallel GSIS measurements showed that insulin secretion was not stimulated between 2.8 and 6 mmol/l glucose but was increased by >4-fold between 6 and 20 mmol/l glucose. Stimulation by glucose of total protein and insulin biosynthesis was also markedly impaired in the absence of GLUT2. Finally, we re-expressed GLUT2 in GLUT2-null beta-cells using recombinant lentiviruses and demonstrated a restoration of normal GSIS. Together, these data show that in the absence of GLUT2, glucose can still be taken up by beta-cells, albeit at a low rate, and that this transport activity is unlikely to be attributed to GLUT1 or GLUT3. This uptake activity, however, is limiting for normal glucose utilization and signaling to secretion and translation. These data further demonstrate the key role of GLUT2 in murine beta-cells for glucose signaling to insulin secretion and biosynthesis.

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