Lentiviral Mediated Gene Silencing in Human Pseudoislet Prepared in Low Attachment Plates

J Vis Exp. 2019 May 14;(147):10.3791/59578. doi: 10.3791/59578.


Various genetic tools are available to modulate genes in pancreatic islets of rodents to dissect function of islet genes for diabetes research. However, the data obtained from rodent islets are often not fully reproduced in or applicable to human islets due to well-known differences in islet structure and function between the species. Currently, techniques that are available to manipulate gene expression of human islets are very limited. Introduction of transgene into intact islets by adenovirus, plasmid, and oligonucleotides often suffers from low efficiency and high toxicity. Low efficiency is especially problematic in gene downregulation studies in intact islets, which require high efficiency. It has been known that enzymatically-dispersed islet cells reaggregate in culture forming spheroids termed pseudoislets. Size-controlled reaggregation of human islet cells creates pseudoislets that maintain dynamic first phase insulin secretion after prolonged culture and provide a window to efficiently introduce lentiviral short hairpin RNA (shRNA) with low toxicity. Here, a detailed protocol for the creation of human pseudoislets after lentiviral transduction using two commercially available multiwell plates is described. The protocol can be easily performed and allows for efficient downregulation of genes and assessment of dynamism of insulin secretion using human islet cells. Thus, human pseudoislets with lentiviral mediated gene modulation provide a powerful and versatile model to assess gene function within human islet cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Expression
  • Gene Silencing*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Secretion / genetics
  • Islets of Langerhans / cytology
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Lentivirus / genetics*
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Transfection / methods*
  • Transgenes


  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • RNA, Viral