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A post-translational balancing act: the good and the bad of SUMOylation in pancreatic islets.

A post-translational balancing act: the good and the bad of SUMOylation in pancreatic islets.
Author Information (click to view)

MacDonald PE,


MacDonald PE, (click to view)

MacDonald PE,

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Diabetologia 2018 01 12() doi 10.1007/s00125-017-4543-5
Abstract

Post-translational modification of proteins contributes to the control of cell function and survival. The balance of these in insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells is important for the maintenance of glucose homeostasis. Protection from the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species is required for beta cell survival, but if this happens at the expense of insulin secretory function then the ability of islets to respond to changing metabolic conditions may be compromised. In this issue of Diabetologia, He et al ( https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-017-4523-9 ) show that post-translational attachment of small ubiquitin-like modifier (SUMO) to target lysine residues (SUMOylation) strikes an important balance between the protection of beta cells from oxidative stress and the maintenance of insulin secretory function. They show that SUMOylation is required to stabilise nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (NRF2) and increase antioxidant gene expression. Decreasing SUMOylation in beta cells impairs their antioxidant capacity, causes cell death, hyperglycaemia, and increased sensitivity to streptozotocin-induced diabetes, while increasing SUMOylation is protective. However, this protection from overt diabetes occurs in concert with glucose intolerance due to impaired beta cell function. A possible role for SUMOylation as a key factor balancing beta cell protection vs beta cell responsiveness to metabolic cues is discussed in this Commentary.

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