Glucose-stimulated Cdc42 signaling is essential for the second phase of insulin secretion

Zhanxiang Wang, Eunjin Oh, Debbie C. Thurmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

100 Scopus citations


The small Rho family GTPases Cdc42 and Rac1 have each been shown to function in insulin exocytosis and are presumed to function in actin remodeling and insulin granule mobilization. However, whether either GTPase is required for the mobilization phase of insulin release (second phase) and are linked in a common signaling pathway has remained unknown. Here we demonstrate that small interfering RNA-mediated depletion of Cdc42 from isolated islets results in the selective loss of second-phase insulin release. Consistent with a role in this nutrient-dependent phase, Cdc42 activation was detected exclusively in response to D-glucose and was unresponsive to KCl or non-metabolizable glucose analogs in MIN6 β-cells. Cdc42 activation occurred early in secretion (3 min), whereas Rac1 activation required ∼15-20 min, suggesting Cdc42 as proximal and Rac1 as distal regulators of second-phase secretion. Importantly, Rac1 activation and function was linked in a common pathway downstream of Cdc42; Cdc42 depletion ablated glucose-induced Rac1 activation, and expression of constitutively active Rac1 in Cdc42-depleted cells functionally restored glucose-stimulated insulin secretion. Occurring at a time midway between Cdc42 and Rac1 activations was the phosphorylation of p21-activated-kinase 1 (Pak1), and this phosphorylation event required Cdc42. Moreover, small interfering RNA-mediated Pak1 depletion abolished Rac1 activation and glucose-stimulated insulin release, suggesting that Pak1 may mediate the link between Cdc42 and Rac1 in this pathway. Taken together, these data substantiate the existence of a novel signaling pathway in the islet β-cell whereby Cdc42 functions as a key proximal transmitter of the glucose signal early in stimulus-secretion coupling to support the later stage of insulin release.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9536-9546
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number13
StatePublished - Mar 30 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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