Many nuclear and cytoplasmic proteins are O-glycosylated on serine or threonine residues with the monosaccharide β-N-acetylglucosamine, which is then termed O-linked N -acetylglucosamine (O-GlcNAc). It has been shown that abnormal O-GlcNAc modification (O-GlcNAcylation) of proteins is one of the causes of insulin resistance and diabetic complications. In this study, in order to examine the relationship between O-GlcNAcylation of proteins and glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in noninsulin-dependent type (type 2) diabetes, we investigated the level of O-GlcNAcylation of proteins, especially that of PDX-1, and the expression of O-GlcNAc transferase in Goto-Kakizaki (GK) rats, which are an animal model of type-2 diabetes. By immunoblot and immunohistochemical analyses, the expression of O-GlcNAc transferase protein and O-GlcNAc-modified proteins in whole pancreas and islets of Langerhans of 15-week-old diabetic GK rats and nondiabetic Wistar rats was examined. The expression of O-GlcNAc transferase at the protein level and O-GlcNAc transferase activity were increased significantly in the diabetic pancreas and islets. The diabetic pancreas and islets also showed an increase in total cellular O-GlcNAc-modified proteins. O-GlcNAcylation of PDX-1 was also increased. In the diabetic GK rats, significant increases in the immunoreactivities of both O-GlcNAc and O-GlcNAc transferase were observed. PUGNAc, an inhibitor of O -GlcNAcase, induced an elevation of O -GlcNAc level and a decrease of glucose-stimulated insulin secretion in isolated islets. These results indicate that elevation of the O-GlcNAcylation of proteins leads to deterioration of insulin secretion in the pancreas of diabetic GK rats, further providing evidence for the role of O-GlcNAc in the insulin secretion.
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