Alteration of the Glucagon Axis in GPR120 (FFAR4) Knockout Mice: A Role for GPR120 in Glucagon Secretion [Cell Biology]

April 17th, 2014 by Suckow, A. T., Polidori, D., Yan, W., Chon, S., Ying Ma, J., Leonard, J., Briscoe, C. P.

GPR40 (FFAR1) and GPR120 (FFAR4) are G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) that are activated by long chain fatty acids (LCFAs). GPR40 is expressed at high levels in islets and mediates the ability of LCFAs to potentiate glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS). GPR120 is expressed at high levels in colon, adipose and pituitary, and at more modest levels in pancreatic islets. The role of GPR120 in islets has not been explored extensively. Here, we confirm that saturated (e.g. palmitic acid) and unsaturated (e.g. docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)) LCFAs engage GPR120 and demonstrate that palmitate- and DHA-potentiated glucagon secretion are greatly reduced in isolated GPR120 KO islets. Remarkably, LCFA potentiated glucagon secretion is similarly reduced in GPR40 KO islets. Compensatory changes in mRNA expression of GPR120 in GPR40 KO islets, and vice versa, do not explain that LCFA potentiated glucagon secretion seemingly involves both receptors. LCFA-potentiated GSIS remains intact in GPR120 KO islets. Consistent with previous reports, GPR120 KO mice are hyperglycemic and glucose intolerant; however, our KO mice display evidence of a hyperactive counter-regulatory response rather than insulin resistance during insulin tolerance tests. An arginine stimulation test and a glucagon challenge confirmed both increases in glucagon secretion and liver glucagon sensitivity in GPR120 KO mice relative to WT mice. Our findings demonstrate that GPR120 is a nutrient sensor that is activated endogenously by both saturated and unsaturated long chain fatty acids and that an altered glucagon axis likely contributes to the impaired glucose homeostasis observed in GPR120 KO mice.