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Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2003 May-Jun;19(3):191-201.

Genes expressed in the developing endocrine pancreas and their importance for stem cell and diabetes research.

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  • 1Division of Developmental Biology, Children's Hospital Research Foundation, Cincinnati, OH 45229-3039, USA.


The genes that regulate endocrine pancreas development, maintain adult endocrine cells, and stimulate progenitor/stem cells during regeneration remain largely unstudied. There is ample evidence that many of the genes involved in endocrine pancreas development also function in the homeostasis of the adult islet. In light of the potential benefits to diabetic research, it is surprising that there is little information about the genes expressed throughout the ontogeny of the endocrine pancreas. In the past few years, efforts have been made to establish the Endocrine Pancreas Consortium database (EPConDB), in which many of the genes expressed in the developing endocrine pancreas are in a database with a corresponding publicly available clone bank. In addition, advances in microarray technology now allow for a quantitative expression analysis of thousands of genes simultaneously, which makes it possible to generate a quantitative catalog of the genes expressed at each step of endocrine differentiation, from embryonic endoderm to mature beta cells. In this review, I will discuss how genes discovered by virtue of their role in endocrine pancreas development may function in the maintenance of pancreatic stem cells and the regeneration of islets. I will further summarize the recent advances in genomics-based studies of the developing endocrine pancreas and will discuss how they might impact on the discovery of diagnostics and research into stem cell-based approaches for the treatment of diabetes.

Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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