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XBP1 maintains beta cell identity, represses beta-to-alpha cell transdifferentiation and protects against diabetic beta cell failure during metabolic stress in mice – published online 22/03/2022

Lee graphical abstract

Kailun Lee, Jeng Yie Chan, Cassandra Liang, Chi Kin Ip, Yan-Chuan Shi, Herbert Herzog, William E. Hughes, Mohammed Bensellam, Viviane Delghingaro-Augusto, Mark E. Koina, Christopher J. Nolan, D. Ross Laybutt

Islet beta cell dedifferentiation has been implicated in beta cell failure in type 2 diabetes, although the mechanisms are poorly defined. The endoplasmic reticulum stress response factor X-box binding protein 1 (XBP1) is a major regulator of the unfolded protein response. Reduced XBP1 expression has been observed in islets of people with type 2 diabetes. In this issue, Lee et al ( report that XBP1 is crucial for the maintenance of beta cell identity and repression of beta-to-alpha transdifferentiation in mice. The authors show that deletion of Xbp1 in adult mouse beta cells deactivates beta cell identity genes and derepresses beta cell dedifferentiation and alpha cell genes. They also demonstrate that XBP1 is required for beta cell compensation and protection against diabetes in insulin-resistant states. It is proposed that XBP1 protects against beta cell apoptosis during metabolic stress by promoting the beta cell’s antioxidant response. The authors conclude that targeting XBP1 might help to reverse the process of beta cell dedifferentiation and restore functional beta cell mass in type 2 diabetes.

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