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Isabel C Greenman, Edith Gomez, Claire E J Moore and Terence P Herbert

In pancreatic β-cells, following an acute (within 1 h) increase in glucose concentration, there are rapid changes in the expression of a large subset of proteins. The change in the expression of many of these proteins is mediated by a post-transcriptional mechanism through either increases or decreases in the rate of translation from pre-existing transcripts. These proteins, whose synthesis is rapidly up- or down-regulated in response to glucose, are likely important in mounting the correct response to changes in plasma glucose concentrations. However, the vast majority of these proteins remain unidentified. Therefore, in order to identify these proteins, we analysed changes in the levels of mRNAs associated with polysomes (i.e. actively translating mRNAs) isolated from mouse insulinoma 6 cells incubated at either 0.5 or 20 mM glucose for 1 h. Changes in the levels of polysomal mRNAs in response to glucose were analysed using affymetrix oligonucleotide microarrays (translational profiling). This work revealed that, in response to a change in glucose concentration, the abundance of 313 transcripts associated with polysomes changed by more than 1.5-fold, of which the abundance of 37 changed by more than twofold. The majority of these transcripts encoded proteins associated with metabolism or gene expression. More detailed analysis showed that a number of mRNAs encoding proteins associated with the induction of oxidative stress, including thioredoxin-2 and thioredoxin-interacting protein were rapidly redistributed onto heavier polysomes at high glucose concentration, indicating an increase in their expression. At low glucose concentration, when the general rate of protein synthesis is low, a number of mRNAs encoding integrated stress response proteins, including ATF4 and CHOP10, associate with heavier polysomes, indicating that their expression is up-regulated. In conclusion, translational profiling has revealed that, at either low or at high glucose concentration, β-cells rapidly increase the synthesis of a specific subset of proteins that are likely important in maintaining β-cell integrity and survival during conditions of nutritional stress.