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Broichhagen, Johannes; Schönberger, Matthias; Cork, Simon C.; Frank, James A.; Marchetti, Piero; Bugliani, Marco; Shapiro, A. M. James; Trapp, Stefan; Rutter, Guy A.; Hodson, David J. and Trauner, Dirk (2014): Optical control of insulin release using a photoswitchable sulfonylurea. In: Nature Communications, Vol. 5, 5116 [PDF, 3MB]

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Sulfonylureas are widely prescribed for the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Through their actions on ATP-sensitive potassium (K-ATP) channels, sulfonylureas boost insulin release from the pancreatic beta cell mass to restore glucose homeostasis. A limitation of these compounds is the elevated risk of developing hypoglycemia and cardiovascular disease, both potentially fatal complications. Here, we describe the design and development of a photoswitchable sulfonylurea, JB253, which reversibly and repeatedly blocks K-ATP channel activity following exposure to violet-blue light. Using in situ imaging and hormone assays, we further show that JB253 bestows light sensitivity upon rodent and human pancreatic beta cell function. Thus, JB253 enables the optical control of insulin release and may offer a valuable research tool for the interrogation of K-ATP channel function in health and T2DM.

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