Insulin gene mutations are a leading cause of neonatal diabetes. They can lead to proinsulin misfolding and its retention in endoplasmic reticulum (ER). This results in increased ER-stress suggested to trigger beta-cell apoptosis. In humans, the mechanisms underlying beta-cell failure remain unclear. Here we show that misfolded proinsulin impairs developing beta-cell proliferation without increasing apoptosis. We generated induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) from people carrying insulin (INS) mutations, engineered isogenic CRISPR-Cas9 mutation-corrected lines and differentiated them to beta-like cells. Single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis showed increased ER-stress and reduced proliferation in INS-mutant beta-like cells compared with corrected controls. Upon transplantation into mice, INS-mutant grafts presented reduced insulin secretion and aggravated ER-stress. Cell size, mTORC1 signaling, and respiratory chain subunits expression were all reduced in INS-mutant beta-like cells, yet apoptosis was not increased at any stage. Our results demonstrate that neonatal diabetes-associated INS-mutations lead to defective beta-cell mass expansion, contributing to diabetes development.
Keywords: CRISPR-Cas9; Insulin gene mutations; beta-cell development; endoplasmic reticulum stress; human; induced pluripotent stem cells; mTORC1; regenerative medicine; stem cells.
© 2018, Balboa et al.