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Expression of Neurexin, Neuroligin, and Their Cytoplasmic Binding Partners in the Pancreatic beta-Cells and the Involvement of Neuroligin in Insulin Secretion

Department of Medicine, Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.
Endocrinology (Impact Factor: 4.64). 09/2008; 149(12):6006-17. DOI: 10.1210/en.2008-0274
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The composition of the beta-cell exocytic machinery is very similar to that of neuronal synapses, and the developmental pathway of beta-cells and neurons substantially overlap. beta-Cells secrete gamma-aminobutyric acid and express proteins that, in the brain, are specific markers of inhibitory synapses. Recently, neuronal coculture experiments have identified three families of synaptic cell-surface molecules (neurexins, neuroligins, and SynCAM) that drive synapse formation in vitro and that control the differentiation of nascent synapses into either excitatory or inhibitory fully mature nerve terminals. The inhibitory synapse-like character of the beta-cells led us to hypothesize that members of these families of synapse-inducing adhesion molecules would be expressed in beta-cells and that the pattern of expression would resemble that associated with neuronal inhibitory synaptogenesis. Here, we describe beta-cell expression of the neuroligins, neurexins, and SynCAM, and show that neuroligin expression affects insulin secretion in INS-1 beta-cells and rat islet cells. Our findings demonstrate that neuroligins and neurexins are expressed outside the central nervous system and help confer an inhibitory synaptic-like phenotype onto the beta-cell surface. Analogous to their role in synaptic neurotransmission, neurexin-neuroligin interactions may play a role in the formation of the submembrane insulin secretory apparatus.

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