A20 controls express on of beta-cell regulatory genes and transcription factors

Catriona Kelly, SD Atkinson, Wiktoria Ratajczak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


TNFAIP3 encodes a zinc finger protein called A20, which has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic properties. A20 promotes beta-cell survival and protects against islet graft rejection in experimental models. The current study sought to investigate the mechanisms underlying the protective role of A20 in the pancreatic beta-cell. Two islet cell types were used for experiments: the insulin-secreting BRIN-BD11 cell line and human islet cells. A20 was silenced using siRNA against TNFAIP3, and knockdown was confirmed by qPCR and immunostaining of cells. Cell viability, cytotoxicity and apoptosis were assessed using the ApotoxGlo assay. Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and production of inflammatory cytokines (TNFa, IL1b and IFNg) were measured by ELISA. Expression of beta-cell regulatory genes (Abcc8, Kcnj11, Kcnq1, Gck, Scl2a2) and transcription factors (Hnf1a, Pdx1, Nkx6.1, Ngn3) was determined by qPCR. A20 deficiency increased apoptosis, impaired glucose-induced insulin secretion, and reduced expression of beta-cell regulatory genes and transcription factors. Addition of recombinant A20 normalized gene expression profiles. TNFa, IL1b and IFNg were elevated in A20 deficient cells and found to independently elicit changes in gene expression. Analysis of PCR array data suggests that A20 action in the beta cell is largely, although not exclusively, driven by the P65 subunit of NF-kB. The current report demonstrates a role for A20 in controlling beta-cell integrity and survival, which likely results from the regulation of inflammatory signalling. Of particular note is the impact that A20 deficiency has on the expression of transcription factors regulating the maturation and normal function of beta cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189–201
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Molecular Endocrinology
Issue number4
Early online date28 Sep 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • A20
  • Beta cell
  • Inflammation
  • Islet
  • diabetes


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