Gupta MK, Vethe H, Softic S, Rao TN, Wagh V, Shirakawa J, Barsnes H, Vaudel M, Takatani T, Kahraman S, et al. Leptin Receptor Signaling Regulates Protein Synthesis Pathways and Neuronal Differentiation in Pluripotent Stem Cells. Stem cell reports. 2020;15(5):1067-1079.

The role of leptin receptor (OB-R) signaling in linking pluripotency with growth and development and the consequences of dysfunctional leptin signaling on progression of metabolic disease is poorly understood. Using a global unbiased proteomics approach we report that embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) carrying the db/db mutation exhibit metabolic abnormalities, while their reprogrammed induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) show altered expression of proteins involved in embryonic development. An upregulation in expression of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4e (Eif4e) and Stat3 binding to the Eif4e promoter was supported by enhanced protein synthesis in mutant iPSCs. Directed differentiation of db/db iPSCs toward the neuronal lineage showed defects. Gene editing to correct the point mutation in db/db iPSCs using CRISPR-Cas9, restored expression of neuronal markers and protein synthesis while reversing the metabolic defects. These data imply a direct role for OB-R in regulating metabolism in embryonic fibroblasts and key developmental pathways in iPSCs.

Kim H, Kulkarni RN. Epigenetics in β-cell adaptation and type 2 diabetes. Current opinion in pharmacology. 2020;55:125-131.

Healthy pancreatic β-cells adapt to systemic insulin resistance to maintain normal blood glucose levels, and a failure of this adaptation leads to type 2 diabetes in humans. While genome-wide association studies have uncovered genetic variants that are associated with type 2 diabetes, it is still insufficient to explain the high prevalence of this disease. Epigenetics is the study of gene expression changes that do not involve DNA sequence alterations such as DNA methylation, histone modification, and non-coding RNAs. Over the last decade, a large number of studies have reported on the role of epigenetics in β-cell biology. In this review, we summarize the epigenetic mechanisms in β-cell adaptation and type 2 diabetes, including alterations in three-dimensional chromatin structure and RNA modifications.