Tetraspanin-7 regulation of L-type voltage-dependent calcium channels controls pancreatic β-cell insulin secretion

J Physiol. 2020 Nov;598(21):4887-4905. doi: 10.1113/JP279941. Epub 2020 Sep 1.


Key points: Tetraspanin (TSPAN) proteins regulate many biological processes, including intracellular calcium (Ca2+ ) handling. TSPAN-7 is enriched in pancreatic islet cells; however, the function of islet TSPAN-7 has not been identified. Here, we characterize how β-cell TSPAN-7 regulates Ca2+ handling and hormone secretion. We find that TSPAN-7 reduces β-cell glucose-stimulated Ca2+ entry, slows Ca2+ oscillation frequency and decreases glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. TSPAN-7 controls β-cell function through a direct interaction with L-type voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (CaV 1.2 and CaV 1.3), which reduces channel Ca2+ conductance. TSPAN-7 slows activation of CaV 1.2 and accelerates recovery from voltage-dependent inactivation; TSPAN-7 also slows CaV 1.3 inactivation kinetics. These findings strongly implicate TSPAN-7 as a key regulator in determining the set-point of glucose-stimulated Ca2+ influx and insulin secretion.

Abstract: Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) is regulated by calcium (Ca2+ ) entry into pancreatic β-cells through voltage-dependent Ca2+ (CaV ) channels. Tetraspanin (TSPAN) transmembrane proteins control Ca2+ handling, and thus they may also modulate GSIS. TSPAN-7 is the most abundant islet TSPAN and immunostaining of mouse and human pancreatic slices shows that TSPAN-7 is highly expressed in β- and α-cells; however, the function of islet TSPAN-7 has not been determined. Here, we show that TSPAN-7 knockdown (KD) increases glucose-stimulated Ca2+ influx into mouse and human β-cells. Additionally, mouse β-cell Ca2+ oscillation frequency was accelerated by TSPAN-7 KD. Because TSPAN-7 KD also enhanced Ca2+ entry when membrane potential was clamped with depolarization, the effect of TSPAN-7 on CaV channel activity was examined. TSPAN-7 KD enhanced L-type CaV currents in mouse and human β-cells. Conversely, heterologous expression of TSPAN-7 with CaV 1.2 and CaV 1.3 L-type CaV channels decreased CaV currents and reduced Ca2+ influx through both channels. This was presumably the result of a direct interaction of TSPAN-7 and L-type CaV channels because TSPAN-7 coimmunoprecipitated with both CaV 1.2 and CaV 1.3 from primary human β-cells and from a heterologous expression system. Finally, TSPAN-7 KD in human β-cells increased basal (5.6 mM glucose) and stimulated (45 mM KCl + 14 mM glucose) insulin secretion. These findings strongly suggest that TSPAN-7 modulation of β-cell L-type CaV channels is a key determinant of β-cell glucose-stimulated Ca2+ entry and thus the set-point of GSIS.

Keywords: calcium handling; insulin secretion; pancreatic β-cell; tetraspanin-7; voltage-dependent calcium channel.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / genetics
  • Calcium Channels, L-Type / metabolism
  • Glucagon-Secreting Cells* / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin Secretion
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells* / metabolism
  • Mice


  • Calcium Channels, L-Type
  • Insulin
  • Glucose
  • Calcium