Identification and characterization of a novel isoform of the vesicular gamma-aminobutyric acid transporter with glucose-regulated expression in rat islets

J Mol Endocrinol. 2006 Feb;36(1):187-99. doi: 10.1677/jme.1.01866.


Pancreatic islets are unique outside the nervous system in that they contain high levels of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), synthesized by the enzyme glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD). Since the role that GABA plays in the islet and the mechanisms whereby the two major GAD isoforms (GAD65 and GAD67) function as diabetes-associated autoantigens are unknown, continued characterization of the islet GAD-GABA system is important. We previously demonstrated that the GABA and glycine transporter vesicular inhibitory amino acid transporter (VIAAT also known as VGAT) is present in rat islets. Here we identify a novel 52 kDa variant of VIAAT in rat islets: VIAAT-52 (V52). V52 is an amino-terminally truncated form of VIAAT (V57) that likely results from utilization of a downstream start site of translation. V57 and V52 display different patterns of post-translational modification and cellular expression. Our results have indicated that islet content of V52, but not V57, is responsive to changes in glucose concentration and other extracellular conditions. VIAAT is expressed in the islet alpha cells, but there have been conflicting findings regarding the presence of VIAAT in the beta cells. Here we have also provided additional evidence for the presence of VIAAT in islet beta cells and show that the beta cell line INS-1 expresses V57. V52 may be better adapted than V57 to the unique rat alpha cell GAD-GABA system, which lacks GAD65 and in which VIAAT traffics to secretory granules rather than just to synaptic microvesicles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • DNA Primers
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • GABA Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / chemistry*
  • GABA Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Glucose / pharmacology*
  • Islets of Langerhans / drug effects*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • Protein Isoforms / chemistry*
  • Protein Isoforms / genetics*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred BB
  • Subcellular Fractions / metabolism


  • DNA Primers
  • GABA Plasma Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Protein Isoforms
  • Glucose