Diabetes Metab J > Volume 33(6); 2009 > Article
Korean Diabetes Journal 2009;33(6):475-484.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.4093/kdj.2009.33.6.475    Published online December 1, 2009.
Transdifferentiation of Enteroendocrine K-cells into Insulin-expressing Cells.
Esder Lee, Jun Mo Yu, Min Kyung Lee, Gyeong Ryul Ryu, Seung Hyun Ko, Yu Bae Ahn, Sung Dae Moon, Ki Ho Song
Department of Internal Medicine, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, Korea. kihos@catholic.ac.kr
Despite a recent breakthough in human islet transplantation for treating type 1 diabetes mellitus, the limited availability of donor pancreases remains a major obstacle. Endocrine cells within the gut epithelium (enteroendocrine cells) and pancreatic beta cells share similar pathways of differentiation during embryonic development. In particular, K-cells that secrete glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) have been shown to express many of the key proteins found in beta cells. Therefore, we hypothesize that K-cells can be transdifferentiated into beta cells because both cells have remarkable similarities in their embryonic development and cellular phenotypes. METHODS: K-cells were purified from heterogeneous STC-1 cells originating from an endocrine tumor of a mouse intestine. In addition, a K-cell subclone expressing stable Nkx6.1, called "Kn4-cells," was successfully obtained. In vitro differentiation of K-cells or Kn4-cells into beta cells was completed after exendin-4 treatment and serum deprivation. The expressions of insulin mRNA and protein were examined by RT-PCR and immunocytochemistry. The interacellular insulin content was also measured. RESULTS: K-cells were found to express glucokinase and GIP as assessed by RT-PCR and Western blot analysis. RT-PCR showed that K-cells also expressed Pdx-1, NeuroD1/Beta2, and MafA, but not Nkx6.1. After exendin-4 treatment and serum deprivation, insulin mRNA and insulin or C-peptide were clearly detected in Kn4-cells. The intracellular insulin content was also increased significantly in these cells. CONCLUSION: K-cells are an attractive potential source of insulin-producing cells for treatment of type 1 diabetes mellitus. However, more experiments are necessary to optimize a strategy for converting K-cells into beta cells.
Key Words: Differentiation, Enteroendocrine cells, K-cell, Nkx6.1 protein, Pancreatic beta-cell

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