Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you will not see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is characterized by motor neuron loss, caused by mutations or deletions in the ubiquitously expressed survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene. We recently identified a novel role for Smn protein in glucose metabolism and pancreatic development in both an intermediate SMA mouse model (Smn(2B/-)) and type I SMA patients. In the present study, we sought to determine if the observed metabolic and pancreatic defects are SMA-dependent. We employed a line of heterozygous Smn-depleted mice (Smn(+/-)) that lack the hallmark SMA neuromuscular pathology and overt phenotype. At 1 month of age, pancreatic/metabolic function of Smn(+/-)mice is indistinguishable from wild type. However, when metabolically challenged with a high-fat diet, Smn(+/-)mice display abnormal localization of glucagon-producing α-cells within the pancreatic islets and increased hepatic insulin and glucagon sensitivity, through increased p-AKT and p-CREB, respectively. Further, aging results in weight gain, an increased number of insulin-producing β cells, hyperinsulinemia and increased hepatic glucagon sensitivity in Smn(+/-)mice. Our study uncovers and highlights an important function of Smn protein in pancreatic islet development and glucose metabolism, independent of canonical SMA pathology. These findings suggest that carriers of SMN1 mutations and/or deletions may be at an increased risk of developing pancreatic and glucose metabolism defects, as even small depletions in Smn protein may be a risk factor for diet- and age-dependent development of metabolic disorders.

Original publication

DOI

10.1093/hmg/ddu052

Type

Journal article

Journal

Hum Mol Genet

Publication Date

01/07/2014

Volume

23

Pages

3432 - 3444

Keywords

Animals, Male, Mice, Muscular Atrophy, Spinal, Obesity, Pancreas, Phenotype, Survival of Motor Neuron 1 Protein