miRNAs are tiny RNAs that repress gene expression post-transcriptionally, necessary for normal endocrine function. AMPK is essential for glucose homeostasis and a suggested target of metformin. β-cell-specific inactivation of AMPK in mice (AMPKdKO) impairs glucose homeostasis and β-cell function. AMPKdKO mice present dysregulation of several miRNAs that may contribute to these defects, including miR-125b (∼2.5 fold upregulated). High levels of miR-125b are associated with hyperglycaemia (HbA1c) in prediabetic, T2D and T1D subjects, suggesting miR-125b as a biomarker or contributor to the development of diabetes. The role of miR-125b in β-cells remains elusive although in other cell types regulates apoptosis, growth and differentiation. We aim to determine miR-125b function in β-cells and the role of glucose and AMPK in the regulation of its expression. miR-125b level in human islets strongly correlates with BMI and is induced by glucose in both mouse and human islets, while feeding mice a ketogenic (low sugar) diet reduced islet miR-125b. These effects disappeared in islets with β-cell specific deletion of AMPK whereas treatment of human islets with highly specific AMPK activators significantly decreased miR-125b, indicating that glucose regulates miR-125b via AMPK in both mice and humans. miR-125b overexpression in MIN6 cells limited cytokine-induced apoptosis whilst strongly reducing insulin content. RNA-Seq on these cells suggests a role for miR-125b in metabolism, respiration and cytokine receptor interactions and RNA-IP of the miRNA-induced silencing complex revealed novel miR-125b targets such as mannose-6-phosphate receptor (MPR), important for enzyme sorting within secretory granules. Preliminary data show that β-cell-specific inhibition of miR-125b using a molecular “sponge” improves glucose tolerance in mice fed a high-fat diet.

In summary, we reveal miR-125b as an important regulator of β-cell function that might contribute to the deleterious effects of hyperglycaemia on β-cells.


R. Cheung: None. G. Pizza: None. D.M. Rolando: None. P.L. Chabosseau: None. M. Nguyen-Tu: None. I. Leclerc: None. G.A. Rutter: Consultant; Self; Sun Pharma. A. Martinez-Sanchez: None.


Medical Research Council UK

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