This application focuses on the long term goal of stimulating ?-cell regeneration as a cure for diabetes. The mechanism controlling the cell cycle progression of ?-cells keeps them at an extremely low proliferating state that decreases further with age. Using a model that we have previously shown to exhibit enhanced ?-cell regeneration, we plan to test the hypothesis that p16 and cyclin D are responsible for the observed slow regeneration phenotype. PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted on chromosome 10) is a negative regulator of a particular ?-cell mitogenic signal, PI3K/AKT. We have shown that loss of PTEN in ?- cells leads to increased islet mass and mitotic activity. To evaluate the molecular mechanisms responsible for this phenotype, we explored various cell cycle regulators and discovered that cyclin D and p16 are significantly altered in the islets. We followed this initial observation and confirmed that PTEN can directly regulate p16 and cyclin D using a glioma cell line. Because of the correlation of p16 upregulation with loss of regeneration in aged ?-cells, we hypothesized that PTEN loss may be capable of inducing regeneration of ?- cells in even older mice. Our preliminary data showed that this is possible in adult mice without the contribution of developmental deletion of Pten. To demonstrate this result, we employed a model that can induce the deletion of Pten in adult mice. Together, these data led to the current hypothesis that PTEN regulates regeneration of b-cells through p16 and cyclin D. To test this hypothesis, we have planned three specific aims: First, we will investigate whether the mitotic activity in ?-cells induced by PTEN loss depends on p16 and cyclin D. Second, we will determine if loss of PTEN is capable of inducing regeneration of ?-cells in mice beyond the age (1 year) at which physiological stimuli can no longer enhance ?-cell regeneration. Third, we will determine whether PTEN regulates p16 through PI3K/AKT signaling. The results from this analysis will substantially improve the understanding of how ?-cells regenerate and shed light on what molecules need to be manipulated to promote their regeneration.

Public Health Relevance

Diabetes is caused by the loss or degradation of beta-cells in the pancreas. Normally, beta-cells are replaced very slowly in adults. The goal of this proposal is to identify ways of speeding up the replacement of beta-cells in order to cure Diabetes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
Cellular Aspects of Diabetes and Obesity Study Section (CADO)
Program Officer
Sato, Sheryl M
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University of Southern California
Schools of Pharmacy
Los Angeles
United States
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He, Lina; Gubbins, James; Peng, Zhechu et al. (2016) Activation of hepatic stellate cell in Pten null liver injury model. Fibrogenesis Tissue Repair 9:8
Bayan, Jennifer-Ann; Peng, Zhechu; Zeng, Ni et al. (2015) Crosstalk Between Activated Myofibroblasts and β Cells in Injured Mouse Pancreas. Pancreas 44:1111-20
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