Exploring Transcriptional Regulation of Beta Cell SASP by Brd4-Associated Proteins and Cell Cycle Control Protein p21

Epigenomes. 2024 Mar 6;8(1):10. doi: 10.3390/epigenomes8010010.


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a metabolic disease resulting from progressive autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells. Although the majority of beta cells are lost in T1D, a small subset undergoes senescence, a stress response involving growth arrest, DNA damage response, and activation of a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP). SASP in beta cells of the nonobese diabetic (NOD) mouse model of T1D and primary human islets is regulated at the level of transcription by bromodomain extra-terminal (BET) proteins, but the mechanisms remain unclear. To explore how SASP is transcriptionally regulated in beta cells, we used the NOD beta cell line NIT-1 to model beta cell SASP and identified binding partners of BET protein Brd4 and explored the role of the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21. Brd4 interacted with a variety of proteins in senescent NIT-1 cells including subunits of the Ino80 chromatin remodeling complex, which was expressed in beta cells during T1D progression in NOD mice and in human beta cells of control, autoantibody-positive, and T1D donors as determined from single-cell RNA-seq data. RNAi knockdown of p21 during senescence in NIT-1 cells did not significantly impact viability or SASP. Taken together, these results suggest that Brd4 interacts with several protein partners during senescence in NIT-1 cells, some of which may play roles in SASP gene activation and that p21 is dispensable for the SASP in this beta cell model.

Keywords: SASP; bromodomain extra-terminal domain proteins; cellular senescence; pancreatic beta cells; type 1 diabetes.