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The secretion of insulin by pancreatic islet β-cells plays a pivotal role in glucose homeostasis and diabetes. Recent work suggests an important role for SUMOylation in the control of insulin secretion from β-cells. In this paper we discuss mechanisms whereby (de)SUMOylation may control insulin release by modulating β-cell function at one or more key points; and particularly through the acute and reversible regulation of the exocytotic machinery. Furthermore, we postulate that the SUMO-specific protease SENP1 is an important mediator of insulin exocytosis in response to NADPH, a metabolic secretory signal and major determinant of β-cell redox state. Dialysis of mouse β-cells with NADPH efficiently amplifies β-cell exocytosis even when extracellular glucose is low; an effect that is lost upon knockdown of SENP1. Conversely, over-expression of SENP1 itself augments β-cell exocytosis in a redox-dependent manner. Taken together, we suggest that (de)SUMOylation represents an important mechanism that acutely regulates insulin secretion and that SENP1 can act as an amplifier of insulin exocytosis.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





269 - 281