Insulin secretion from pancreatic β cells is essential for glucose homeostasis. An insufficient response to the demand for insulin results in diabetes. We previously showed that β cell-specific deletion of Zfp148 (β-Zfp148KO) improves glucose tolerance and insulin secretion in mice. Here, we performed Ca2+ imaging of islets from β‑Zfp148KO and control mice fed both a chow and a Western-style diet. β-Zfp148KO islets demonstrated improved sensitivity and sustained Ca2+ oscillations in response to elevated glucose levels. β-Zfp148KO islets also exhibited elevated sensitivity to amino acid-induced Ca2+ influx under low glucose conditions, suggesting enhanced mitochondrial phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent (PEP-dependent), ATP-sensitive K+ channel closure, independent of glycolysis. RNA-Seq and proteomics of β-Zfp148KO islets revealed altered levels of enzymes involved in amino acid metabolism (specifically, SLC3A2, SLC7A8, GLS, GLS2, PSPH, PHGDH, and PSAT1) and intermediary metabolism (namely, GOT1 and PCK2), consistent with altered PEP cycling. In agreement with this, β-Zfp148KO islets displayed enhanced insulin secretion in response to l-glutamine and activation of glutamate dehydrogenase. Understanding pathways controlled by ZFP148 may provide promising strategies for improving β cell function that are robust to the metabolic challenge imposed by a Western diet.
Keywords: Beta cells; Calcium signaling; Endocrinology; Insulin; Metabolism.