Transcription factor CEBPA has been widely studied for its involvement in hematopoietic cell differentiation and causal role in hematological malignancies. We demonstrate here that it also performs a causal role in cytokine-induced apoptosis of pancreas β cells. Treatment of two mouse pancreatic α and β cell lines (αTC1-6 and βTC1) with proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IFN-γ, and TNF-α at doses that specifically induce apoptosis of βTC1 significantly increased the amount of mRNA and protein encoded by Cebpa and its proapoptotic targets, Arl6ip5 and Tnfrsf10b, in βTC1 but not in αTC1-6. Cebpa knockdown in βTC1 significantly decreased cytokine-induced apoptosis, together with the amount of Arl6ip5 and Tnfrsf10b. Analysis of the network comprising CEBPA, its targets, their first interactants, and proteins encoded by genes known to regulate cytokine-induced apoptosis in pancreatic β cells (genes from the apoptotic machinery and from MAPK and NFkB pathways) revealed that CEBPA, ARL6IP5, TNFRSF10B, TRAF2, and UBC are the top five central nodes. In silico analysis further suggests TRAF2 as trait d'union node between CEBPA and the NFkB pathway. Our results strongly suggest that Cebpa is a key regulator within the apoptotic network activated in pancreatic β cells during insulitis, and Arl6ip5, Tnfrsf10b, Traf2, and Ubc are key executioners of this program.
Molecular Biology of the Cell, 2014, Vol 25, Issue 16, p. 2333-41