Insulin expression in pancreatic islet cells relies on cooperative interactions between the helix loop helix factor E47 and the homeobox factor STF-1

Mol Endocrinol. 1994 Dec;8(12):1798-806. doi: 10.1210/mend.8.12.7708065.


The development of endocrine cell types within the pancreas is thought to involve the progressive restriction of pluripotential stem cells, which gives rise to the four major cell types: insulin-, glucagon-, somatostatin-, and pancreatic polypeptide-expressing cells. The mechanism by which these peptide hormone genes are induced and then either maintained or repressed during development is unknown, but their coexpression in early precursor cells suggests the involvement of common regulatory factors. Here we show that the somatostatin transcription factor STF-1 is also a principal regulator of insulin expression in beta-cells of the pancreas. STF-1 stimulates the insulin gene by recognizing two well defined islet-specifying elements on the insulin promoter and by subsequently synergizing in trans with the juxtaposed helix-loop-helix protein E47. Within the STF-1 protein, an N-terminal trans-activation domain functions cooperatively with E47 to stimulate insulin transcription. As truncated STF-1 polypeptides lacking the N-terminal activation domain strongly inhibit insulin promoter activity in beta-islet cells, our results suggest that the specification of islet cell types during development may be in part determined by the expression of STF-1 relative to other islet cell factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Nucleus / chemistry
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Drug Synergism
  • Gene Expression / drug effects*
  • Helix-Loop-Helix Motifs
  • Homeodomain Proteins / analysis
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Insulin / genetics*
  • Islets of Langerhans / chemistry
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic
  • TCF Transcription Factors
  • Trans-Activators / analysis
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Trans-Activators / pharmacology*
  • Transcription Factor 7-Like 1 Protein
  • Transcription Factors*
  • Transcriptional Activation


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Insulin
  • TCF Transcription Factors
  • Tcf7l1 protein, mouse
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factor 7-Like 1 Protein
  • Transcription Factors
  • pancreatic and duodenal homeobox 1 protein
  • DNA