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Emerging evidence suggests that redox-active chemicals perturb pancreatic islet development. To better understand potential mechanisms for this, we used zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos to investigate roles of glutathione (GSH; predominant cellular redox buffer) and the transcription factor Nrf2a (Nfe2l2a; zebrafish Nrf2 coortholog) in islet morphogenesis. We delineated critical windows of susceptibility to redox disruption of beta-cell morphogenesis, interrogating embryos at 24, 48 and 72 h post fertilization (hpf) and visualized Nrf2a expression in the pancreas using whole-mount immunohistochemistry at 96 hpf. Chemical GSH modulation at 48 hpf induced significant islet morphology changes at 96 hpf. Pro-oxidant exposures to tert-butylhydroperoxide (77.6 mu M; 10-min at 48 hpf) or tert-butylhydroquinone (1 mu M; 48-56 hpf) decreased beta-cell cluster area at 96 hpf. Conversely, exposures to antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (bolsters GSH pools; 100 mu M; 48-72 hpf) or sulforaphane (activates Nrf2a; 20 mu M; 48-72 hpf) significantly increased islet areas. Nrf2a was also stabilized in beta-cells: 10-min exposures to 77.6 mu M tert-butylhydroperoxide significantly increased Nrf2a protein compared to control islet cells that largely lack stabilized Nrf2a; 10-min exposures to higher (776 mu M) tert-butylhydroperoxide concentration stabilized Nrf2a throughout the pancreas. Using biotinylated-GSH to visualize in situ protein glutathionylation, islet cells displayed high protein glutathionylation, indicating oxidized GSH pools. The 10-min high (776 mu M) tert-butylhydroperoxide exposure (induced Nrf2a globally) decreased global protein glutathionylation at 96 hpf. Mutant fish expressing inactive Nrf2a were protected against tert-butylhydroperoxide-induced abnormal islet morphology. Our data indicate that disrupted redox homeostasis and Nrf2a stabilization during pancreatic beta-cell development impact morphogenesis, with implications for disease states at later life stages. Our work identifies a potential molecular target (Nrf2) that mediates abnormal beta-cell morphology in response to redox disruptions. Moreover, our findings imply that developmental exposure to exogenous stressors at distinct windows of susceptibility could diminish the reserve redox capacity of beta-cells, rendering them vulnerable to later-life stresses and disease.




Rastogi, Archit/0000-0002-2572-3227; Severance, Emily/0000-0002-1531-7575





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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


National Institutes of HealthUnited States Department of Health & Human ServicesNational Institutes of Health (NIH) - USA [R01ES025748]