CD44 variant (CD44v) contributes to cancer stemness by stabilizing the xCT subunit of system xc(-) and thereby promoting its glutamate-cystine antiporter activity. CD44 has also been implicated in autoimmune insulitis and inflammation in diabetic islets, but whether CD44v regulates insulin secretion has remained unclear. Here we show that CD44v inhibits insulin secretion by attenuating amino acid transport mediated by the L-type amino acid transporter LAT1. CD44v expression level was inversely related to insulin content in islets of normal and diabetic model mice. Knockdown of CD44 increased insulin secretion, the intracellular insulin level, and the transport of neutral amino acids mediated by LAT1 in Min6 cells. Attenuation of the uptake of neutral amino acids with a LAT inhibitor reduced insulin secretion and insulin content in Min6 cells, whereas overexpression of LAT1 increased insulin secretion. Moreover, inhibition of LAT1 prevented the increase in insulin secretion and content induced by CD44 depletion in Min6 cells. Our results thus implicate CD44v in the regulation of insulin secretion and reveal that amino acid transport is rate limiting for such secretion. They further suggest that amino acid transport mediated by LAT1 is a potential therapeutic target for diabetes.
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