Objectives: To comprehensively inventory the proteins that control the G1/S cell cycle checkpoint in the human islet and compare them with those in the murine islet, to determine whether these might therapeutically enhance human beta-cell replication, to determine whether human beta-cell replication can be demonstrated in an in vivo model, and to enhance human beta-cell function in vivo.
Research design and methods: Thirty-four G1/S regulatory proteins were examined in human islets. Effects of adenoviruses expressing cdk-6, cdk-4, and cyclin D1 on proliferation in human beta-cells were studied in both in vitro and in vivo models.
Results: Multiple differences between murine and human islets occur, most strikingly the presence of cdk-6 in human beta-cells versus its low abundance in the murine islet. Cdk-6 and cyclin D1 in vitro led to marked activation of retinoblastoma protein phosphorylation and cell cycle progression with no induction of cell death. Human islets transduced with cdk-6 and cyclin D1 were transplanted into diabetic NOD-SCID mice and markedly outperformed native human islets in vivo, maintaining glucose control for the entire 6 weeks of the study.
Conclusions: The human G1/S proteome is described for the first time. Human islets are unlike their rodent counterparts in that they contain easily measurable cdk-6. Cdk-6 overexpression, alone or in combination with cyclin D1, strikingly stimulates human beta-cell replication, both in vitro as well as in vivo, without inducing cell death or loss of function. Using this model, human beta-cell replication can be induced and studied in vivo.