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Equilibrative nucleoside transporter 3 depletion in β-cells impairs mitochondrial function and promotes apoptosis: Relationship to pigmented hypertrichotic dermatosis with insulin-dependent diabetes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2086-2095
Number of pages10
Issue number10
Early online date9 Jul 2015
Accepted/In press7 Jul 2015
E-pub ahead of print9 Jul 2015
PublishedOct 2015

King's Authors


Loss of function recessive mutations in the SLC29A3 gene that encodes human equilibrative nucleoside transporter 3 (ENT3) have been identified in patients with pigmented hypertrichotic dermatosis with insulin-dependent diabetes (PHID). ENT3 is a member of the equilibrative nucleoside transporter (ENT) family whose primary function is mediating transport of nucleosides and nucleobases. The aims of this study were to characterise ENT3 expression in islet β-cells and identify the effects of its depletion on β-cell mitochondrial activity and apoptosis. RT-PCR amplification identified ENT3 expression in human and mouse islets and exocrine pancreas, and in MIN6 β-cells. Immunohistochemistry using human and mouse pancreas sections exhibited extensive ENT3 immunostaining of β-cells, which was confirmed by co-staining with an anti-insulin antibody. In addition, exposure of dispersed human islet cells and MIN6 β-cells to MitoTracker and an ENT3 antibody showed co-localisation of ENT3 to β-cell mitochondria. Consistent with this, Western blot analysis confirmed enhanced ENT3 immunoreactivity in β-cell mitochondria-enriched fractions. Furthermore, ENT3 depletion in β-cells increased mitochondrial DNA content and promoted an energy crisis characterised by enhanced ATP-linked respiration and proton leak. Finally, inhibition of ENT3 activity by dypridamole and depletion of ENT3 by siRNA-induced knockdown resulted in increased caspase 3/7 activities in β-cells. These observations demonstrate that ENT3 is predominantly expressed by islet β-cells where it co-localises with mitochondria. Depletion of ENT3 causes mitochondrial dysfunction which is associated with enhanced β-cell apoptosis. Thus, apoptotic loss of islet β-cells may contribute to the occurrence of autoantibody-negative insulin-dependent diabetes in individuals with non-functional ENT3 mutations.

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