LKB1 regulates pancreatic beta cell size, polarity, and function

Cell Metab. 2009 Oct;10(4):296-308. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2009.08.010.


Pancreatic beta cells, organized in the islets of Langerhans, sense glucose and secrete appropriate amounts of insulin. We have studied the roles of LKB1, a conserved kinase implicated in the control of cell polarity and energy metabolism, in adult beta cells. LKB1-deficient beta cells show a dramatic increase in insulin secretion in vivo. Histologically, LKB1-deficient beta cells have striking alterations in the localization of the nucleus and cilia relative to blood vessels, suggesting a shift from hepatocyte-like to columnar polarity. Additionally, LKB1 deficiency causes a 65% increase in beta cell volume. We show that distinct targets of LKB1 mediate these effects. LKB1 controls beta cell size, but not polarity, via the mTOR pathway. Conversely, the precise position of the beta cell nucleus, but not cell size, is controlled by the LKB1 target Par1b. Insulin secretion and content are restricted by LKB1, at least in part, via AMPK. These results expose a molecular mechanism, orchestrated by LKB1, for the coordinated maintenance of beta cell size, form, and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenylate Kinase / genetics
  • Adenylate Kinase / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism
  • Cell Polarity*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells* / cytology
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells* / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / genetics
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor) / metabolism
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases


  • Blood Glucose
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Phosphotransferases (Alcohol Group Acceptor)
  • Stk11 protein, mouse
  • TOR Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • mTOR protein, mouse
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Adenylate Kinase