PloS one

Pax6 directly down-regulates Pcsk1n expression thereby regulating PC1/3 dependent proinsulin processing.

PMID 23056534


Heterozygous paired box6 (Pax6) mutations lead to abnormal glucose metabolism in mice older than 6 months as well as in human beings. Our previous study found that Pax6 deficiency caused down-expression of prohormone convertase 1/3 (Pcsk1), resulting in defective proinsulin processing. As a protein cleaving enzyme, in addition to its expression, the activity of PC1/3 is closely related to its function. We therefore hypothesize that Pax6 mutation alters the activity of PC1/3, which affects proinsulin processing. Using quantitative RT-PCR, western blot and enzyme assay, we found that PC1/3 C-terminal cleavage and its activity were compromised in Pax6 R266Stop mutant mice, and the expression of Pcsk1n, a potent inhibitor of PC1/3, was elevated by Pax6 deficiency in the mutant mice and MIN6 cells. We confirmed the effect of proSAAS, the protein encoded by Pcsk1n, on PC1/3 C-terminal cleavage and its activity by Pcsk1n RNAi in MIN6 cells. Furthermore, by luciferase-reporter analysis, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and electrophoretic mobility shift assay, we revealed that Pax6 bound to Pcsk1n promoter and directly down-regulated its expression. Finally, by co-transfecting Pax6 siRNA with Pcsk1n siRNA, we showed that Pax6 knock-down inhibited proinsulin processing and that this effect could be rescued by proSAAS down-regulation. These findings confirm that Pax6 regulates proinsulin processing partially through proSAAS-mediated PC1/3 processing and activity. Collectively, the above experiments demonstrate that Pax6 can directly down-regulate Pcsk1n expression, which negatively affects PC1/3 C-terminal cleavage and activity and subsequently participates in proinsulin processing. We identified proSAAS as a novel down-regulated target of Pax6 in the regulation of glucose metabolism. This study also provides a complete molecular mechanism for the Pax6 deficiency-caused diabetes.