Ion Channels and Insulin Secretion
We review the role of ion channels in regulating insulin secretion from pancreatic β-cells. By controlling ion permeability, ion channels at the membrane play a major role in regulating both electrical activity and signal transduction in the β-cell. A proximal step in the cascade of events required for stimulus-secretion coupling is the closure of ATP-sensitive K+ channels, resulting in cell depolarization. Of particular relevance is the finding that this channel is directly regulated by a metabolite of glucose, which is the primary insulin secretagogue. In addition, this channel, or a closely associated protein, contains the sulfonylurea-binding site. Another K+ channel, the Ca2+-activated K+ channel, may be involved in cell repolarization to create homeostasis. Voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels are activated by cell depolarization and regulate Ca2+ influx into the cell. By controlling cytosolic free-Ca2+ levels ([Ca2+]i), these channels play an important role in transducing the initial stimulus to the effector systems that modulate insulin secretion. The link between a rise in [Ca2+[(and the terminal event of exocytosis is the least-understood aspect of stimulus-secretion coupling. However, phosphorylation studies have identified substrate proteins that may correspond to those involved in smooth muscle contraction, suggesting an analogy in the processes of stimulus secretion and excitation contraction. The advent of new methodology, particulary the patch-clamp technique, has fostered a more detailed characterization of the β-cell ion channels. Furthermore, biochemical and molecular approaches developed for the structural analysis of ion channels in other tissues can now be applied to the isolation and characterization of the β-cell ion channels. This is of particular significance because there appear to be tissue-specific variations in the different types of ion channels. Given the importance of ion channels in cell physiology, a knowledge of the structure and properties of these channels in the β-cell is required for understanding the abnormalities of insulin secretion that occur in non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. Ultimately, these studies should also provide new therapeutic approaches to the treatment of this disease.
- Copyright © 1990 by the American Diabetes Association