Glucagon is stored within the secretory granules of pancreatic alpha cells until stimuli trigger its release. The alpha cell secretory responses to the stimuli vary widely, possibly due to differences in experimental models or microenvironmental conditions. We hypothesized that the response of the alpha cell to various stimuli could be due to plasticity in the network of proteins that interact with glucagon within alpha cell secretory granules. We used tagged glucagon with Fc to pull out glucagon from the enriched preparation of secretory granules in α-TC1-6 cells. Isolation of secretory granules was validated by immunoisolation with Fc-glucagon and immunoblotting for organelle-specific proteins. Isolated enriched secretory granules were then used for affinity purification with Fc-glucagon followed by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry to identify secretory granule proteins that interact with glucagon. Proteomic analyses revealed a network of proteins containing glucose regulated protein 78 KDa (GRP78) and histone H4. The interaction between glucagon and the ER stress protein GRP78 and histone H4 was confirmed through co-immunoprecipitation of secretory granule lysates, and colocalization immunofluorescence confocal microscopy. Composition of the protein networks was altered at different glucose levels (25 vs. 5.5 mM) and in response to the paracrine inhibitors of glucagon secretion, GABA and insulin. siRNA-mediated silencing of a subset of these proteins revealed their involvement in glucagon secretion in α-TC1-6 cells. Therefore, our results show a novel and dynamic glucagon interactome within α-TC1-6 cell secretory granules. We suggest that variations in the alpha cell secretory response to stimuli may be governed by plasticity in the glucagon "interactome."
Keywords: alpha cell; co-immunoprecipitation; confocal microscopy; glucagon; glucagon interactome; glucagon secretion; proteomics.