GSK-3 inactivation or depletion promotes β-cell replication via down regulation of the CDK inhibitor, p27 (Kip1)

Islets. 2011 Jan-Feb;3(1):21-34. doi: 10.4161/isl.3.1.14435. Epub 2011 Jan 1.


Diabetes (T1DM and T2DM) is characterized by a deficit in β-cell mass. A broader understanding of human β-cell replication mechanism is thus important to increase β-cell proliferation for future therapeutic interventions. Here, we show that p27 (Kip1), a CDK inhibitor, is expressed abundantly in isolated adult human islets and interacts with various positive cell cycle regulatory proteins including D-type cyclins (D1, D2 and D3) and their kinase partners, CDK4 and CDK6. Also, we see interaction of cyclin E and its kinase partner, CDK2, with p27 suggesting a critical role of p27 as a negative cell cycle regulator in human islets. Our data demonstrate interaction of p27 with GSK-3 in β-cells and show, employing rodent β-cells (INS-1), isolated human islets and purified β-cells derived from human islets, that siRNA-mediated depletion of GSK-3 or p27 or 1-AKP / BIO - mediated GSK-3 inhibition results in increased β-cell proliferation. We also see reduction of p27 levels following GSK-3 inactivation or depletion. Our data show that serum induction of quiescent INS-1 cells leads to sequential phosphorylation of p27 on its S10 and T187 residues with faster kinetics for S10 corresponding with the decreased levels of p27. Altogether our findings indicate that p27 levels in β-cells are stabilized by GSK-3 and thus p27 down regulation following GSK-3 depletion / inactivation plays a critical role in promoting β-cell replication.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Cell Division* / genetics
  • Cell Division* / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27 / genetics*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27 / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / genetics
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / physiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology
  • Rats


  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3