Regulator of G protein signaling 2 is a key regulator of pancreatic β-cell mass and function

Cell Death Dis. 2017 May 25;8(5):e2821. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2016.216.


Pancreatic β-cell death and dysfunction contributes to the pathogenesis of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. We aimed to examine whether the regulator of G protein signaling protein 2 (RGS2), a multifunctional inhibitor of G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling, impacts β-cell death and function. Metabolic phenotypes, β-cell secretory function, and glucose and insulin tolerance were measured in RGS2 knockout (RGS2-/-) mice and their wild-type (RGS2+/+) littermate controls. β-Cell death was evaluated in RGS2-knockdown and -overexpressing β cells and RGS2-/- islets by flow cytometry, western blot, ELISA, TUNEL staining, and apoptosis RT2 profiler PCR array analysis. β-Cell mass was evaluated in pancreases from RGS2-/- and RGS2+/+ mice at 1 day, 4 weeks, and 25 weeks of age. Our data show that RGS2-/- islets secreted more insulin than RGS2+/+ islets when challenged with glucose or exendin-4. RGS2-knockdown cells are susceptible to hypoxia induced cell death while RGS2-overexpressing cells are protected from cell death. Depletion of RGS2 in islets alters expression of apoptosis-related genes and RGS2-/- islets are prone to apoptosis compared with RGS2+/+ islets. Ultimately, excessive insulin secretion and increased β-cell apoptosis contributed to a 70% reduction in pancreatic β-cell mass in RGS2-/- mice compared with RGS2+/+ mice at 25 weeks of age. RGS2 has critical roles in maintaining pancreatic β-cell mass via modulating β-cell function and apoptosis. It may serve as a druggable target to help prevent pancreatic β-cell loss in the treatment of diabetes.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology
  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology
  • Cell Hypoxia / drug effects
  • Cell Size* / drug effects
  • Cytoprotection / drug effects
  • Gene Deletion
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Homeostasis / drug effects
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / cytology*
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / drug effects
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Phenotype
  • RGS Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects


  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Insulin
  • RGS Proteins
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Rgs2 protein, mouse
  • Glucose