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Human insulinomas are rare, benign, slowly proliferating, insulin-producing beta cell tumors that provide a molecular "recipe" or "roadmap" for pathways that control human beta cell regeneration. An earlier study revealed abnormal methylation in the imprinted p15.5-p15.4 region of chromosome 11, known to be abnormally methylated in another disorder of expanded beta cell mass and function: the focal variant of congenital hyperinsulinism. Here, we compare deep DNA methylome sequencing on 19 human insulinomas, and five sets of normal beta cells. We find a remarkably consistent, abnormal methylation pattern in insulinomas. The findings suggest that abnormal insulin (INS) promoter methylation and altered transcription factor expression create alternative drivers of INS expression, replacing canonical PDX1-driven beta cell specification with a pathological, looping, distal enhancer-based form of transcriptional regulation. Finally, NFaT transcription factors, rather than the canonical PDX1 enhancer complex, are predicted to drive INS transactivation.

Original publication

DOI

10.1038/s41467-020-18839-1

Type

Journal article

Journal

Nat Commun

Publication Date

15/10/2020

Volume

11