BET Bromodomain proteins Brd2, Brd3 and Brd4 selectively regulate metabolic pathways in the pancreatic β-cell

Jude T. Deeney, Anna C. Belkina, Orian S. Shirihai, Barbara E. Corkey, Gerald V. Denis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Displacement of Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal (BET) proteins from chromatin has promise for cancer and inflammatory disease treatments, but roles of BET proteins in metabolic disease remain unexplored. Small molecule BET inhibitors, such as JQ1, block BET protein binding to acetylated lysines, but lack selectivity within the BET family (Brd2, Brd3, Brd4, Brdt), making it difficult to disentangle contributions of each family member to transcriptional and cellular outcomes. Here, we demonstrate multiple improvements in pancreatic β-cells upon BET inhibition with JQ1 or BET-specific siRNAs. JQ1 (50-400 nM) increases insulin secretion from INS-1 cells in a concentration dependent manner. JQ1 increases insulin content in INS-1 cells, accounting for increased secretion, in both rat and human islets. Higher concentrations of JQ1 decrease intracellular triglyceride stores in INS-1 cells, a result of increased fatty acid oxidation. Specific inhibition of both Brd2 and Brd4 enhances insulin transcription, leading to increased insulin content. Inhibition of Brd2 alone increases fatty acid oxidation. Overlapping yet discrete roles for individual BET proteins in metabolic regulation suggest new isoform-selective BET inhibitors may be useful to treat insulin resistant/diabetic patients. Results imply that cancer and diseases of chronic inflammation or disordered metabolism are related through shared chromatin regulatory mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0151329
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016
Externally publishedYes


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