Background: C57BLKS/J (BLKS) mice are susceptible to islet exhaustion in insulin-resistant states as compared with C57BL6/J (B6) mice, as observed by the presence of the leptin receptor (Lepr) allele, Leprdb/db. Furthermore, DBA2/J (DBA) mice are also susceptible to beta-cell failure and share 25% of their genome with BLKS; thus the DBA genome may contribute to beta-cell dysfunction in BLKS mice.
Results: Here we show that BLKS mice exhibit elevated insulin secretion, as evidenced by improved glucose tolerance and increased islet insulin secretion compared with B6 mice, and describe interstrain transcriptional differences in glucose response. Transcriptional differences between BLKS and B6 mice were identified by expression profiling of isolated islets from both strains. Genomic mapping of gene expression differences demonstrated a significant association of expression differences with DBA loci in BLKS mice (P = 4x10-27).
Conclusion: Two genes, Nicotinamide nucleotide transhydrogenase (Nnt) and Pleiomorphic adenoma gene like 1 (Plagl1), were 4 and 7.2-fold higher respectively in BLKS islets, and may be major contributors to increased insulin secretion by BLKS islets. Contrary to reports for B6 mice, BLKS mice do not harbor a mutant Nnt gene. We detected 16 synonymous polymorphisms and a two-amino acid deletion in the Plagl1 gene in BLKS mice. Several inflammatory glucose-responsive genes are expressed at a higher level in BLKS, suggesting an inflammatory component to BLKS islet dysfunction. This study describes physiological differences between BLKS and B6 mice, and provides evidence for a causative role of the DBA genome in beta-cell dysfunction in BLKS mice.