Transcription factor Ets-1 links glucotoxicity to pancreatic beta cell dysfunction through inhibiting PDX-1 expression in rodent models

Fang Chen, Min Sha, Yanyang Wang, Tijun Wu, Wei Shan, Jia Liu, Wenbo Zhou, Yunxia Zhu, Yujie Sun, Yuguang Shi, David Bleich, Xiao Han

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Scopus citations


Aims/hypothesis: ‘Glucotoxicity’ is a term used to convey the negative effect of hyperglycaemia on beta cell function; however, the underlying molecular mechanisms that impair insulin secretion and gene expression are poorly defined. Our objective was to define the role of transcription factor v-ets avian erythroblastosis virus E26 oncogene homologue 1 (Ets-1) in beta cell glucotoxicity. Methods: Primary islets and Min6 cells were exposed to high glucose and Ets-1 expression was measured. Recombinant adenovirus and transgenic mice were used to upregulate Ets-1 expression in beta cells in vitro and in vivo, and insulin secretion was assessed. The binding activity of H3/H4 histone on the Ets-1 promoter, and that of forkhead box (FOX)A2, FOXO1 and Ets-1 on the Pdx-1 promoter was measured by chromatin immunoprecipitation and quantitative real-time PCR assay. Results: High glucose induced upregulation of Ets-1 expression and hyperacetylation of histone H3 and H4 at the Ets-1 gene promoter in beta cells. Ets-1 overexpression dramatically suppressed insulin secretion and biosynthesis both in vivo and in vitro. Besides, Ets-1 overexpression increased the activity of FOXO1 but decreased that of FOXA2 binding to the pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 (PDX-1) homology region 2 (PH2), resulting in inhibition of Pdx-1 promoter activity and downregulation of PDX-1 expression and activity. In addition, high glucose promoted the interaction of Ets-1 and FOXO1, and the activity of Ets-1 binding to the Pdx-1 promoter. Importantly, PDX-1 overexpression reversed the defect in pancreatic beta cells induced by Ets-1 excess, while knockdown of Ets-1 prevented hyperglycaemia-induced dysfunction of pancreatic beta cells. Conclusions/interpretation: Our observations suggest that Ets-1 links glucotoxicity to pancreatic beta cell dysfunction through inhibiting PDX-1 expression in type 2 diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)316-324
Number of pages9
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2016



  • Beta cell
  • Dysfunction
  • Ets-1
  • Glucotoxicity
  • PDX-1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism

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