Sorting ourselves out: seeking consensus on trafficking in the beta-cell

Traffic. 2004 Jan;5(1):53-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0854.2004.00152.x.


Biogenesis of the regulated secretory pathway in the pancreatic beta-cell involves packaging of products, notably proinsulin, into immature secretory granules derived from the trans-Golgi network. Proinsulin is converted to insulin and C-peptide as granules mature. Secretory proteins not entering granules are conveyed by transport intermediates directly to the plasma membrane for constitutive secretion. One of the co-authors, Peter Arvan, has proposed that in addition, small vesicles bud from granules to traffic to the endosomal system. From there, some proteins are secreted by a (post-granular) constitutive-like pathway. He argues that retention in granules is facilitated by condensation, rendering soluble products (notably C-peptide and proinsulin) more available for constitutive-like secretion. Thus he argues that prohormone conversion is potentially important in secretory granule biogenesis. The other co-author, Philippe Halban, argues that the post-granular secretory pathway is not of physiological relevance in primary beta-cells, and contests the importance of proinsulin conversion for retention in granules. Both, however, agree that trafficking from granules to endosomes is important, purging granules of unwanted newly synthesized proteins and allowing their traffic to other destinations. In this Traffic Interchange, the two co-authors attempt to reconcile their differences, leading to a common vision of proinsulin trafficking in primary and transformed cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • C-Peptide / metabolism
  • Exocytosis / physiology*
  • Golgi Apparatus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / cytology
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Proinsulin / genetics
  • Proinsulin / metabolism
  • Protein Transport* / physiology
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism
  • trans-Golgi Network / metabolism


  • C-Peptide
  • Insulin
  • Proinsulin