In vivo studies of glucagon secretion by human islets transplanted in mice

Krissie Tellez, Yan Hang, Xueying Gu, Charles A Chang, Roland W Stein, Seung K Kim
Nature metabolism 2020, 2 (6): 547-557
Little is known about regulated glucagon secretion by human islet α-cells compared to insulin secretion from β-cells, despite conclusive evidence of dysfunction in both cell types in diabetes mellitus. Distinct insulins in humans and mice permit in vivo studies of human β-cell regulation after human islet transplantation in immunocompromised mice, whereas identical glucagon sequences prevent analogous in vivo measures of glucagon output from human α-cells. Here, we use CRISPR-Cas9 editing to remove glucagon codons 2-29 in immunocompromised NSG mice, preserving the production of other proglucagon-derived hormones. Glucagon knockout NSG (GKO-NSG) mice have metabolic, liver and pancreatic phenotypes associated with glucagon-signalling deficits that revert after transplantation of human islets from non-diabetic donors. Glucagon hypersecretion by transplanted islets from donors with type 2 diabetes revealed islet-intrinsic defects. We suggest that GKO-NSG mice provide an unprecedented resource to investigate human α-cell regulation in vivo.

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