Mechanisms of estradiol-induced insulin secretion by the G protein-coupled estrogen receptor GPR30/GPER in pancreatic beta-cells

Endocrinology. 2011 Aug;152(8):3030-9. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-0091. Epub 2011 Jun 14.


Sexual dimorphism and supplementation studies suggest an important role for estrogens in the amelioration of glucose intolerance and diabetes. Because little is known regarding the signaling mechanisms involved in estradiol-mediated insulin secretion, we investigated the role of the G protein-coupled receptor 30, now designated G protein-coupled estrogen receptor (GPER), in activating signal transduction cascades in β-cells, leading to secretion of insulin. GPER function in estradiol-induced signaling in the pancreatic β-cell line MIN6 was assessed using small interfering RNA and GPER-selective ligands (G-1 and G15) and in islets isolated from wild-type and GPER knockout mice. GPER is expressed in MIN6 cells, where estradiol and the GPER-selective agonist G-1 mediate calcium mobilization and activation of ERK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase. Both estradiol and G-1 induced insulin secretion under low- and high-glucose conditions, which was inhibited by pretreatment with GPER antagonist G15 as well as depletion of GPER by small interfering RNA. Insulin secretion in response to estradiol and G-1 was dependent on epidermal growth factor receptor and ERK activation and further modulated by phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity. In islets isolated from wild-type mice, the GPER antagonist G15 inhibited insulin secretion induced by estradiol and G-1, both of which failed to induce insulin secretion in islets obtained from GPER knockout mice. Our results indicate that GPER activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor and ERK in response to estradiol treatment plays a critical role in the secretion of insulin from β-cells. The results of this study suggest that the activation of downstream signaling pathways by the GPER-selective ligand G-1 could represent a novel therapeutic strategy in the treatment of diabetes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • COS Cells
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Cyclopentanes / pharmacology
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases / metabolism
  • Female
  • Insulin / metabolism*
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Quinolines / pharmacology
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / physiology*


  • 1-(4-(6-bromobenzo(1,3)dioxol-5-yl)-3a,4,5,9b-tetrahydro-3H-cyclopenta(c)quinolin-8-yl)ethanone
  • Cyclopentanes
  • GPER1 protein, mouse
  • Insulin
  • Quinolines
  • Receptors, Estrogen
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled
  • Estradiol
  • Extracellular Signal-Regulated MAP Kinases
  • Calcium