Distinct internalization pathways of human amylin monomers and its cytotoxic oligomers in pancreatic cells

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 3;8(9):e73080. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0073080. eCollection 2013.


Toxic human amylin oligomers and aggregates are implicated in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes mellitus (TTDM). Although recent studies have shown that pancreatic cells can recycle amylin monomers and toxic oligomers, the exact uptake mechanism and trafficking routes of these molecular forms and their significance for amylin toxicity are yet to be determined. Using pancreatic rat insulinoma (RIN-m5F) beta (β)-cells and human islets as model systems we show that monomers and oligomers cross the plasma membrane (PM) through both endocytotic and non-endocytotic (translocation) mechanisms, the predominance of which is dependent on amylin concentrations and incubation times. At low (≤ 100 nM) concentrations, internalization of amylin monomers in pancreatic cells is completely blocked by the selective amylin-receptor (AM-R) antagonist, AC-187, indicating an AM-R dependent mechanism. In contrast at cytotoxic (µM) concentrations monomers initially (1 hour) enter pancreatic cells by two distinct mechanisms: translocation and macropinocytosis. However, during the late stage (24 hours) monomers internalize by a clathrin-dependent but AM-R and macropinocytotic independent pathway. Like monomers a small fraction of the oligomers initially enter cells by a non-endocytotic mechanism. In contrast a majority of the oligomers at both early (1 hour) and late times (24 hours) traffic with a fluid-phase marker, dextran, to the same endocytotic compartments, the uptake of which is blocked by potent macropinocytotic inhibitors. This led to a significant increase in extra-cellular PM accumulation, in turn potentiating amylin toxicity in pancreatic cells. Our studies suggest that macropinocytosis is a major but not the only clearance mechanism for both amylin's molecular forms, thereby serving a cyto-protective role in these cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopolymers / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endocytosis*
  • Humans
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide / metabolism*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Pancreas / cytology
  • Pancreas / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Islet Amyloid Polypeptide / metabolism


  • Biopolymers
  • Islet Amyloid Polypeptide
  • Receptors, Islet Amyloid Polypeptide