Imaging analysis reveals mechanistic differences between first- and second-phase insulin exocytosis

J Cell Biol. 2007 May 21;177(4):695-705. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200608132. Epub 2007 May 14.


The mechanism of glucose-induced biphasic insulin release is unknown. We used total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) imaging analysis to reveal the process of first- and second-phase insulin exocytosis in pancreatic beta cells. This analysis showed that previously docked insulin granules fused at the site of syntaxin (Synt)1A clusters during the first phase; however, the newcomers fused during the second phase external to the Synt1A clusters. To reveal the function of Synt1A in phasic insulin exocytosis, we generated Synt1A-knockout (Synt1A(-/-)) mice. Synt1A(-/-) beta cells showed fewer previously docked granules with no fusion during the first phase; second-phase fusion from newcomers was preserved. Rescue experiments restoring Synt1A expression demonstrated restoration of granule docking status and fusion events. Inhibition of other syntaxins, Synt3 and Synt4, did not affect second-phase insulin exocytosis. We conclude that the first phase is Synt1A dependent but the second phase is not. This indicates that the two phases of insulin exocytosis differ spatially and mechanistically.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Exocytosis / physiology*
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence


  • Insulin