RIPK1 and RIPK3 regulate TNFa-induced ß-cell death in concert with caspase activity

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Source: Molecular Metabolism


Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is characterized by autoimmune-associated β-cell loss, insulin insufficiency, and hyperglycemia. Although TNFα signaling is associated with β-cell loss and hyperglycemia in non-obese diabetic mice and human T1D, the molecular mechanisms of β-cell TNF receptor signaling have not been fully characterized. Based on work in other cell types, we hypothesized that receptor interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) and receptor interacting protein kinase 3 (RIPK3) regulate TNFα-induced β-cell death in concert with caspase activity.


We evaluated TNFα-induced cell death, caspase activity, and TNF receptor pathway molecule expression in immortalized NIT-1 and INS-1 β-cell lines and primary mouse islet cells in vitro. Our studies utilized genetic and small molecule approaches to alter RIPK1 and RIPK3 expression and caspase activity to interrogate mechanisms of TNFα-induced β-cell death. We used the β-cell toxin streptozotocin (STZ) to determine the susceptibility of Ripk3+/+ and Ripk3−/− mice to hyperglycemia in vivo.


Expression of TNF receptor signaling molecules including RIPK1 and RIPK3 was identified in NIT-1 and INS-1 β cells and isolated mouse islets at the mRNA and protein levels. TNFα treatment increased NIT-1 and INS-1 cell death and caspase activity after 24–48 h, and BV6, a small molecule inhibitor of inhibitor of apoptosis proteins (IAPs) amplified this TNFα-induced cell death. RIPK1 deficient NIT-1 cells were protected from TNFα- and BV6-induced cell death and caspase activation. Interestingly, small molecule inhibition of caspases with zVAD-fmk (zVAD) did not prevent TNFα-induced cell death in either NIT-1 or INS-1 cells. This caspase-independent cell death was increased by BV6 treatment and decreased in RIPK1 deficient NIT-1 cells. RIPK3 deficient NIT-1 cells and RIPK3 kinase inhibitor treated INS-1 cells were protected from TNFα+zVAD-induced cell death, whereas RIPK3 overexpression increased INS-1 cell death and promoted RIPK3 and MLKL interaction under TNFα+zVAD treatment. In mouse islet cells, BV6 or zVAD treatment promoted TNFα-induced cell death, and TNFα+zVAD-induced cell death was blocked by RIPK3 inhibition and in Ripk3−/− islet cells in vitro. Ripk3−/− mice were also protected from STZ-induced hyperglycemia and glucose intolerance in vivo.


RIPK1 and RIPK3 regulate TNFα-induced β-cell death in concert with caspase activity in immortalized and primary islet β cells. TNF receptor signaling molecules such as RIPK1 and RIPK3 may represent novel therapeutic targets to promote β-cell survival and glucose homeostasis in T1D.

To read the complete research article, go to Molecular Metabolism.