H2S, endoplasmic reticulum stress, and apoptosis of insulin-secreting beta cells

Guangdong Yang, Wei Yang, Lingyun Wu, Rui Wang
Journal of Biological Chemistry 2007 June 1, 282 (22): 16567-76
Cystathionine gamma-lyase (CSE) is a key enzyme in the trans-sulfuration pathway, which uses L-cysteine to produce hydrogen sulfide (H2S). Functional changes of pancreatic beta cells induced by endogenous H2S have been reported, but the effect of the CSE/H2S system on pancreatic beta cell survival has not been known. In this study, we demonstrate that H2Sat physiologically relevant concentrations induced apoptosis of INS-1E cells, an insulin-secreting beta cell line. Transfection of INS-1E cells with a recombinant defective adenovirus containing the CSE gene (Ad-CSE) resulted in a significant increase in CSE expression and H2S production. Ad-CSE transfection also stimulated apoptosis. The other two end products of CSE-catalyzed enzymatic reaction, ammonium and pyruvate, had no effects on INS-1E cell apoptosis, indicating that overexpression of CSE may stimulate INS-1E cell apoptosis via increased endogenous production of H2S. Both exogenous H2S (100 microM) and Ad-CSE transfection inhibited ERK1/2 but activated p38 MAPK. Interestingly, BiP and CHOP, two indicators of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress, were up-regulated in H2S-and CSE-mediated apoptosis in INS-1E cells. After suppressing CHOP mRNA expression, H2S-induced apoptosis of INS-1E cells was significantly decreased. Inhibition of p38 MAPK, but not of ERK1/2, inhibited the expression of BiP and CHOP and decreased H2S-stimulated apoptosis, suggesting that p38 MAPK activation functions upstream of ER stress to initiate H2S-induced apoptosis. It is concluded that H2S induces apoptosis of insulin-secreting beta cells by enhancing ER stress via p38 MAPK activation. Our findings may help unmask a novel role of CSE/H2S system in regulating pancreatic functions under physiological condition and in diabetes.

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