Wolfram Syndrome 1 (WFS1) protein is an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) factor whose deficiency results in juvenile-onset diabetes secondary to cellular dysfunction and apoptosis. The mechanisms guiding β-cell outcomes secondary to WFS1 function, however, remain unclear. Here, we show that WFS1 preserves normal β-cell physiology by promoting insulin biosynthesis and negatively regulating ER stress. Depletion of Wfs1 in vivo and in vitro causes functional defects in glucose-stimulated insulin secretion and insulin content, triggering Chop-mediated apoptotic pathways. Genetic proof of concept studies coupled with RNA-seq reveal that increasing WFS1 confers a functional and a survival advantage to β-cells under ER stress by increasing insulin gene expression and downregulating the Chop-Trib3 axis, thereby activating Akt pathways. Remarkably, WFS1 and INS levels are reduced in type-2 diabetic (T2DM) islets, suggesting that WFS1 may contribute to T2DM β-cell pathology. Taken together, this work reveals essential pathways regulated by WFS1 to control β-cell survival and function primarily through preservation of ER homeostasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)849-862
Number of pages14
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020


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