Pancreatic islets regulate glucose homeostasis through coordinated actions of hormone-secreting cells. What underlies the function of the islet as a unit is the close approximation and communication among heterogeneous cell populations, but the structural mediators of islet cellular cross talk remain incompletely characterized. We generated mice specifically lacking β-cell primary cilia, a cellular organelle that has been implicated in regulating insulin secretion, and found that the β-cell cilia are required for glucose sensing, calcium influx, insulin secretion, and cross regulation of α- and δ-cells. Protein expression profiling in islets confirms perturbation in these cellular processes and reveals additional targets of cilia-dependent signaling. At the organism level, the deletion of β-cell cilia disrupts circulating hormone levels, impairs glucose homeostasis and fuel usage, and leads to the development of diabetes. Together, these findings demonstrate that primary cilia not only orchestrate β-cell–intrinsic activity but also mediate cross talk both within the islet and from islets to other metabolic tissues, thus providing a unique role of cilia in nutrient metabolism and insight into the pathophysiology of diabetes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8912-8923
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 21 2020


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