Characterization of vesicular glutamate transporter in pancreatic α- and β-cells and its regulation by glucose

Liqun Bai, Xiaohong Zhang, Fayez K. Ghishan

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50 Scopus citations


Glutamate has been suggested to play an important role in the release of insulin and glucagon from pancreatic cells via exocytosis. Vesicular glutamate transporter is a rate-limiting step for glutamate release and is involved in the glutamate-evoked exocytosis. Two vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUT1 and -2) have recently been cloned from the brain. In this report, we first functionally characterized vesicular glutamate transporter in cultured pancreatic α- and β-cells, and then detected mRNA expression of VGLUT1 and -2 in these cells. We also investigated the effect of high or low level of glucose on vesicular glutamate transport in cultured pancreas cells. Our results suggest that both α- and β-cells contain functional vesicular glutamate transporter. The transport characteristics are similar to the cloned neuronal VGLUT1 and -2 in regard to ATP dependence, substrate specificity, kinetics, and chloride dependence. VGLUT2 mRNA is expressed in both α- and β-cells, whereas VGLUT1 is only expressed in β-cells. High (12.8 mM) and low (2.8 mM) concentrations of glucose increased vesicular glutamate transport in β- and α-cells, respectively. VGLUT2 mRNA was significantly increased in β- and α-cells by high and low glucose concentration, respectively. This increase in VGLUT2 mRNA was suppressed by actinomycin D. We conclude that both α- and β-cells possess functional vesicular glutamate transporters regulated by alteration in glucose concentration, partly via the transcriptional mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G808-G814
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number5 47-5
StatePublished - May 1 2003


  • Diabetes
  • Glucagon
  • Insulin
  • Transcriptional regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)


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