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Vanesa Jiménez-Amilburu, Susanne Jong-Raadsen, Jeroen Bakkers, Herman P Spaink, and Rubén Marín-Juez

Cardiomyopathies-associated metabolic pathologies (e.g., type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance) are a leading cause of mortality. It is known that the association between these pathologies works in both directions, for which heart failure can lead to metabolic derangements such as insulin resistance. This intricate crosstalk exemplifies the importance of a fine coordination between one of the most energy-demanding organs and an equilibrated carbohydrate metabolism. In this light, to assist in the understanding of the role of insulin-regulated glucose transporters (GLUTs) and the development of cardiomyopathies, we have developed a model for glut12 deficiency in zebrafish. GLUT12 is a novel insulin-regulated GLUT expressed in the main insulin-sensitive tissues, such as cardiac muscle, skeletal muscle, and adipose tissue. In this study, we show that glut12 knockdown impacts the development of the embryonic heart resulting in abnormal valve formation. Moreover, glut12-deficient embryos also exhibited poor glycemic control. Glucose measurements showed that these larvae were hyperglycemic and resistant to insulin administration. Transcriptome analysis demonstrated that a number of genes known to be important in cardiac development and function as well as metabolic mediators were dysregulated in these larvae. These results indicate that glut12 is an essential GLUT in the heart where the reduction in glucose uptake due to glut12 deficiency leads to heart failure presumably due to the lack of glucose as energy substrate. In addition, the diabetic phenotype displayed by these larvae after glut12 abrogation highlights the importance of this GLUT during early developmental stages.

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Rubén Marín-Juez, Susanne Jong-Raadsen, Shuxin Yang, and Herman P Spaink

Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and metabolic syndrome are pathologies where insulin resistance plays a central role, and that affect a large population worldwide. These pathologies are usually associated with a dysregulation of insulin secretion leading to a chronic exposure of the tissues to high insulin levels (i.e. hyperinsulinemia), which diminishes the concentration of key downstream elements, causing insulin resistance. The complexity of the study of insulin resistance arises from the heterogeneity of the metabolic states where it is observed. To contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms triggering insulin resistance, we have developed a zebrafish model to study insulin metabolism and its associated disorders. Zebrafish larvae appeared to be sensitive to human recombinant insulin, becoming insulin-resistant when exposed to a high dose of the hormone. Moreover RNA-seq-based transcriptomic profiling of these larvae revealed a strong downregulation of a number of immune-relevant genes as a consequence of the exposure to hyperinsulinemia. Interestingly, as an exception, the negative immune modulator protein tyrosine phosphatase nonreceptor type 6 (ptpn6) appeared to be upregulated in insulin-resistant larvae. Knockdown of ptpn6 was found to counteract the observed downregulation of the immune system and insulin signaling pathway caused by hyperinsulinemia. These results indicate that ptpn6 is a mediator of the metabolic switch between insulin-sensitive and insulin-resistant states. Our zebrafish model for hyperinsulinemia has therefore demonstrated its suitability for discovery of novel regulators of insulin resistance. In addition, our data will be very useful in further studies of the function of immunological determinants in a non-obese model system.

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Junling He, Yi Ding, Natalia Nowik, Charel Jager, Muhamed N. H. Eeza, A. Alia, Hans J Baelde, and Herman P Spaink

Leptin is a hormone which functions in the regulation of energy homeostasis via suppression of appetite. In zebrafish, there are two paralogues genes encoding leptin, called lepa and lepb. In a gene expression study, we found that the lepb gene, not the lepa gene, was significantly downregulated under the state of insulin-resistant in zebrafish larvae, suggesting that the lepb plays a role in insulin homeostasis. In the current study, we characterised lepb-deficient (lepb-/-) adult zebrafish generated via a CRISPR-CAS9 gene editing approach by investigating whether the deletion of lepb gene would result in the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and diabetic complications. We observed that lepb-/- adult zebrafish had an increase in body weight, length and visceral fat accumulation, compared to age-matched control zebrafish. In addition, lepb-/- zebrafish had significantly higher blood glucose levels compared to control zebrafish. These data collectively indicate that lepb-/- adult zebrafish display the features of T2DM. Furthermore, we showed that lepb-/- adult zebrafish had glomerular hypertrophy and thickening of glomerular basement membrane, compared to control zebrafish, suggesting that lepb-/- adult zebrafish develop early signs of diabetic nephropathy. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that lepb regulates glucose homeostasis and adiposity in zebrafish, and suggest that lepb-/- mutant zebrafish are a promising model to investigate the role of leptin in the development of T2DM and an attractive model to perform mechanistic and therapeutic research in T2DM and its complications.