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Gene Expr Patterns. 2006 Apr;6(4):353-9. Epub 2006 Jan 30.

Eph receptors and their ephrin ligands are expressed in developing mouse pancreas.

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  • 1Hormone and Metabolic Research Unit, Institute of Cellular Pathology, Universit√© Catholique de Louvain, 75 Avenue Hippocrate, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.


Pancreas development involves branching morphogenesis concomitantly to differentiation of endocrine, exocrine and ductal cell types from a single population of pancreatic precursors. These processes depend on many signals and factors that also control development of the central nervous system. In the latter, Eph receptors and their class-A (GPI-anchored) and class-B (transmembrane) ephrin ligands control cell migration and axon-pathfinding, help establish regional patterns and act as labels for cell positioning. This raised the question as to whether and where Ephs and ephrins are expressed during pancreas development. Here we have identified the Eph and ephrin genes that are expressed in mouse embryonic pancreas, as detected by RT-PCR analysis. In situ hybridization experiments showed that Ephs and ephrins are mainly expressed in the burgeoning structures of the epithelium which differentiate into exocrine acini. Binding experiments on whole pancreas demonstrated the presence of functional Eph receptors. They showed that EphBs are expressed by the pancreatic epithelium at embryonic day (e) 12.5 and that, from e14.5 on, Ephs of both classes are expressed by the pancreatic epithelium and then become restricted to developing acini. We conclude that specific members of the Eph/ephrin family are expressed in embryonic pancreas according to a dynamic temporal and regional pattern.

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