HDAC1 overexpression enhances β-cell proliferation by down-regulating Cdkn1b/p27

Biochem J. 2018 Dec 19;475(24):3997-4010. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20180465.


The homeobox transcription factor Nkx6.1 is sufficient to increase functional β-cell mass, where functional β-cell mass refers to the combination of β-cell proliferation, glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) and β-cell survival. Here, we demonstrate that the histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1), which is an early target of Nkx6.1, is sufficient to increase functional β-cell mass. We show that HDAC activity is necessary for Nkx6.1-mediated proliferation, and that HDAC1 is sufficient to increase β-cell proliferation in primary rat islets and the INS-1 832/13 β-cell line. The increase in HDAC1-mediated proliferation occurs while maintaining GSIS and increasing β-cell survival in response to apoptotic stimuli. We demonstrate that HDAC1 overexpression results in decreased expression of the cell cycle inhibitor Cdkn1b/p27 which is essential for inhibiting the G1 to S phase transition of the cell cycle. This corresponds with increased expression of key cell cycle activators, such as Cyclin A2, Cyclin B1 and E2F1, which are activated by activation of the Cdk4/Cdk6/Cyclin D holoenzymes due to down-regulation of Cdkn1b/p27. Finally, we demonstrate that overexpression of Cdkn1b/p27 inhibits HDAC1-mediated β-cell proliferation. Our data suggest that HDAC1 is critical for the Nkx6.1-mediated pathway that enhances functional β-cell mass.

Keywords: Cdkn; Nkx6.1; cell proliferation; histone deacetylases; pancreatic beta cell.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Proliferation / physiology*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27 / genetics
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27 / metabolism*
  • Down-Regulation / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic*
  • Histone Deacetylase 1 / biosynthesis*
  • Histone Deacetylase 1 / genetics
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • CDKN1B protein, human
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • HDAC1 protein, human
  • Histone Deacetylase 1