A novel optical tracer for VMAT2 applied to live cell measurements of vesicle maturation in cultured human β-cells

Pecic, Stevan; Milosavic, Nenad; Rayat, Gina R.; Maffei, Antonella; Harris, Paul Emerson

The islet β-cells integrate external signals to modulate insulin secretion to better regulate blood glucose levels during periods of changing metabolic demand. The vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 (VMAT2), an important regulator of CNS neurotransmission, has an analogous role in the endocrine pancreas as a key control point of insulin secretion, with additional roles in regulating β-cell differentiation and proliferation. Here we report on the synthesis and biological characterisation of a fluorescent ligand for VMAT2 suitable for live cell imaging. Staining for VMAT2 and dopamine in live β-cell cultures show colocalisation in specific vesicles and reveal a heterogeneous population with respect to cell size, shape, vesicle number, size, and contents. Staining for VMAT2 and zinc ion, as a surrogate for insulin, reveals a wide range of vesicle sizes. Immunohistochemistry shows larger β-cell vesicles enriched for proinsulin, whereas smaller vesicles predominantly contain the processed mature insulin. In β-cell cultures obtained from nondiabetic donors, incubation at non-stimulatory glucose concentrations promotes a shift in vesicle diameter towards the more mature insulin vesicles at the expense of the larger immature insulin secretory vesicle population. We anticipate that this probe will be a useful reagent to identify living β-cells within complex mixtures for further manipulation and characterisation.


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Scientific Reports

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July 22, 2019

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