Signal transduction properties of exendin-4 (Ex-4) underlying its ability to stimulate rat insulin I gene promoter (RIP1) activity were assessed in the pancreatic β-cell line INS-1. Ex-4 acted via glucagon-like peptide-1 receptors to stimulate RIP1 in a glucose-dependent manner, as measured in cells transfected with a -410-bp RIP1-luciferase construct (RIP1-Luc). The action of Ex-4 was independent of cAMP and PKA because it was not blocked by cotransfection with dominant-negative Gαs, was unaffected by pretreatment with the membrane-permeant cAMP antagonist 8-Br-Rp-cAMPS, and remained apparent after treatment with PKA inhibitors H-89 or KT 5720. Similarly, cotransfection with a dominant-negative isoform of the type-2 cAMP-regulated guanine nucleotide exchange factor (Epac2) failed to alter the response to Ex-4. Ro 31-8220, a serine/threonine protein kinase inhibitor that targets PKC as as well as the 90-kDa ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) and mitogenand stress-activated protein kinase (MSK) family of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) kinases, blocked the stimulatory action of Ex-4 at RIP1-Luc. However, selective inhibition of PKC using K-252c, prolonged exposure to phorbol 1,2-myristate-13-acetate, or cotransfection with dominant-negative atypical PKC-ζ, was without effect. A-CREB, a dominant-negative inhibitor of basic region-leucine zipper transcription factors (bZIPs) related in structure to CREB, inhibited the action of Ex-4 at RIP1-Luc, whereas A-ATF-2 was ineffective. Similarly, introduction of deletions at the RIP1 cAMP response element (CRE), or truncation of RIP1 to remove the CRE, nearly abolished the action of Ex-4. Inactivating mutations introduced at the A4/A3 elements, binding sites for the glucose-regulated homeodomain transcription factor PDX-1, did not diminish the response to Ex-4, although a marked reduction of basal promoter activity was observed. The glucose-dependent stimulation of RIP1-Luc by Ex-4 was reproduced using a synthetic reporter (RIP1-CRE-Luc) incorporating multimerized CREs of the RIP1 nonpalindromic sequence 5′-TGACGTCC-3′. It is concluded that the bZIP and CRE-mediated stimulation of RIP1 by Ex-4 explains, at least in part, how this insulinotropic hormone facilitates transcriptional activity of the rat insulin I gene.
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