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Dysfunctional microRNA (miRNA) networks contribute to inappropriate responses following pathological stress and are the underlying cause of several disease conditions. In pancreatic β cells, miRNAs have been largely unstudied and little is known about how specific miRNAs regulate glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) or impact the adaptation of β cell function to metabolic stress. In this study, we determined that miR-7 is a negative regulator of GSIS in β cells. Using Mir7a2 deficient mice, we revealed that miR-7a2 regulates β cell function by directly regulating genes that control late stages of insulin granule fusion with the plasma membrane and ternary SNARE complex activity. Transgenic mice overexpressing miR-7a in β cells developed diabetes due to impaired insulin secretion and β cell dedifferentiation. Interestingly, perturbation of miR-7a expression in β cells did not affect proliferation and apoptosis, indicating that miR-7 is dispensable for the maintenance of endocrine β cell mass. Furthermore, we found that miR-7a levels are decreased in obese/diabetic mouse models and human islets from obese and moderately diabetic individuals with compensated β cell function. Our results reveal an interconnecting miR-7 genomic circuit that regulates insulin granule exocytosis in pancreatic β cells and support a role for miR-7 in the adaptation of pancreatic β cell function in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Invest

Publication Date





2722 - 2735


Animals, Cell Dedifferentiation, Diabetes Mellitus, Exocytosis, Humans, Insulin, Insulin Secretion, Insulin-Secreting Cells, Mice, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Knockout, Mice, Obese, Mice, Transgenic, MicroRNAs, Obesity, SNARE Proteins