In type 2 diabetes, β-cells endure various forms of cellular stress, including oxidative stress and endoplasmic reticulum stress, secondary to increased demand for insulin production and extracellular perturbations, including hyperglycemia. Chronic exposure to stress causes impaired insulin secretion, apoptosis, and loss of cell identity, and a combination of these processes leads to β-cell failure and severe hyperglycemia. Therefore, a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying stress responses in β-cells promises to reveal new therapeutic opportunities for type 2 diabetes. In this perspective, we discuss posttranscriptional control of gene expression as a critical, but underappreciated, layer of regulation with broad importance during stress responses. Specifically, regulation of mRNA translation occurs pervasively during stress to activate gene expression programs; however, the convenience of RNA sequencing has caused translational regulation to be overlooked compared with transcriptional controls. We highlight the role of RNA binding proteins in shaping selective translational regulation during stress and the mechanisms underlying this level of regulation. A growing body of evidence indicates that RNA binding proteins control an array of processes in β-cells, including the synthesis and secretion of insulin. Therefore, systematic evaluations of translational regulation and the upstream factors shaping this level of regulation are critical areas of investigation to expand our understanding of β-cell failure in type 2 diabetes.
- Received July 9, 2019.
- Accepted January 16, 2020.
- © 2020 by the American Diabetes Association.