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Journal of Diabetes Research
Volume 2016, Article ID 3459246, 9 pages
Review Article

Unique Aspects of Cryptochrome in Chronobiology and Metabolism, Pancreatic β-Cell Dysfunction, and Regeneration: Research into Cysteine414-Alanine Mutant CRY1

Research Center for Molecular Genetics, Institute for Promotion of Medical Science Research, Yamagata University Faculty of Medicine, Yamagata 990-9585, Japan

Received 6 November 2016; Accepted 27 November 2016

Academic Editor: Hiroshi Okamoto

Copyright © 2016 Satoshi Okano. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Cryptochrome proteins (CRYs), which can bind noncovalently to cofactor (chromophore) flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), occur widely among organisms. CRYs play indispensable roles in the generation of circadian rhythm in mammals. Transgenic mice (Tg mice), ubiquitously expressing mouse CRY1 having a mutation in which cysteine414 (the zinc-binding site of CRY1) being replaced with alanine, display unique phenotypes in their circadian rhythms. Moreover, male Tg mice exhibit symptoms of diabetes characterized by beta-cell dysfunction, resembling human maturity onset diabetes of the young (MODY). The lowered proliferation of β-cells is a primary cause of age-dependent β-cell loss. Furthermore, unusually enlarged duct-like structures developed prominently in the Tg mice pancreases. The duct-like structures contained insulin-positive cells, suggesting neogenesis of β-cells in the Tg mice. This review, based mainly on the author’s investigation of the unique features of Tg mice, presents reported results and recent findings related to molecular processes associated with mammalian cryptochromes, especially their involvement in the regulation of metabolism. New information is described with emphasis on the aspects of islet architecture, pancreatic β-cell dysfunction, and regeneration.