Loss of HNF-1alpha function in mice leads to abnormal expression of genes involved in pancreatic islet development and metabolism

Diabetes. 2001 Nov;50(11):2472-80. doi: 10.2337/diabetes.50.11.2472.


Mutations in hepatocyte nuclear factor 1alpha (HNF-1alpha) lead to maturity-onset diabetes of the young type 3 as a result of impaired insulin secretory response in pancreatic beta-cells. The expression of 50 genes essential for normal beta-cell function was studied to better define the molecular mechanism underlying the insulin secretion defect in Hnf-1alpha(-/-) mice. We found decreased steady-state mRNA levels of genes encoding glucose transporter 2 (Glut2), neutral and basic amino acid transporter, liver pyruvate kinase (L-Pk), and insulin in Hnf-1alpha(-/-) mice. In addition, we determined that the expression of several islet-enriched transcription factors, including Pdx-1, Hnf-4alpha, and Neuro-D1/Beta-2, was reduced in Hnf-1alpha(-/-) mice. These changes in pancreatic islet mRNA levels were already apparent in newborn animals, suggesting that loss of Hnf-1alpha function rather than chronic hyperglycemia is the primary cause of the altered gene expression. This expression profile was pancreatic islet-specific and distinct from hepatocytes, where we found normal expression of Glut2, L-Pk, and Hnf-4alpha in the liver of Hnf-1alpha(-/-) mice. The expression of small heterodimer partner (Shp-1), an orphan receptor that can heterodimerize with Hnf-4alpha and inhibit its transcriptional activity, was also reduced in Hnf-1alpha(-/-) islets. We characterized a 0.58-kb Shp-1 promoter and determined that the decreased expression of Shp-1 may be indirectly mediated by a downregulation of Hnf-4alpha. We further showed that Shp-1 can repress its own transcriptional activation by inhibiting Hnf-4alpha function, thereby establishing a feedback autoregulatory loop. Our results indicate that loss of Hnf-1alpha function leads to altered expression of genes involved in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion, insulin synthesis, and beta-cell differentiation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Fetus / physiology
  • Gene Expression / physiology*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-alpha
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-beta
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / embryology*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Liver / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout / genetics
  • Nuclear Proteins*
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear / genetics
  • Reference Values
  • Transcription Factors / deficiency
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / physiology*
  • Transcriptional Activation / physiology


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-alpha
  • Hnf1a protein, mouse
  • Hnf1b protein, mouse
  • Insulin
  • Nuclear Proteins
  • Receptors, Cytoplasmic and Nuclear
  • Transcription Factors
  • nuclear receptor subfamily 0, group B, member 2
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 1-beta
  • Glucose