Objective: CHL1 belongs to neural recognition molecules of the immunoglobulin superfamily, is mainly expressed in the nervous system. CHL1 is involved in neuronal migration, axonal growth, and dendritic projection. RNA sequencing of single human islet cells confirmed that CHL1 had an expression difference in β cells of type 2 diabetes and healthy controls. However, whether CHL1 gene regulates islet function remained to be explored.
Methods: PCR and Western Blot were applied to investigate the tissue distribution of CHL1 in wild-type C57BL/6J mice. The islet expression of CHL1 gene was observed in pancreatic islets of NOD mice and high-fat-diet C57BL/6J mice of different ages. MIN6 cells with siRNA to silence CHL1 or with lentivirus to overexpress CHL1 were constructed. Effects of the gene on proliferation, apoptosis, cell cycle and insulin secretion were determined by using CCK8, EdU, TUNEL, AV/PI, GSIS, electron microscopy and flow cytometry.
Results: CHL1 was localized on the cell membrane and expressed in the nervous system, islet of pancreas and gastrointestinal tract. CHL1 was hypoexpressed in the pancreatic islets of obese mice, hyperexpressed in the pancreatic islets of NOD mice and in vitro after treated with cytokines. After silencing CHL1 in MIN6 cells, insulin secretion decreased in 20 mM glucose with down-regulation of INS1, SLC2A2 gene, and transmission electron microscope showed the number of insulin secretary granules <50nm from the cell membrane was significantly reduced. Silencing of CHL1 in MIN6 cells induced cell proliferation, reduced apoptosis rate, prolonged the S phase of cell cycle and shortened the G1 phase with downregulated expression of p21, p53 and up-regulated expression of cyclin D1, opposite results were found in CHL1 over-expressing MIN6 cells. Proliferation induced by silencing of CHL1 was inhibited by ERK inhibitor (PD98059), which indicates that ERK pathway is essential for signaling by these molecules in pancreatic β cell.
Conclusion: The expression of CHL1 gene was significantly decreased in the pancreatic islets of obese mice induced by high-fat diet. The low expression of CHL1 gene promotes the proliferation of MIN6 cells through the ERK pathway and affect cell cycle through the p53 pathway. This may be one of the mechanisms that pancreatic β cells compensatory hyperplasia in the stage of obesity-induced pre-diabetes.