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Genes Dev. 2006 Aug 15;20(16):2208-13.

Spleen versus pancreas: strict control of organ interrelationship revealed by analyses of Bapx1-/- mice.

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  • 1Umeå Centre for Molecular Medicine, Umeå University, S-901 87, Umeå, Sweden.


During early stages of pancreatic development, the mesenchyme that contributes to the spleen overlies the dorsal pancreatic endoderm. Here, we show that interactions between splenic mesenchyme and pancreas proceed via a highly orchestrated morphogenetic program. Disruption of morphogenesis, as occurs in the Bapx1(Nkx3.2)(-/-) embryo, results in transformation of these tissues into well-organized, ectopic gut-like structures. Bapx1 plays a crucial organizing role effecting position and separation of the spleen and pancreas to prevent this metaplastic transformation. Similar transformations occur in organ cultures employing wild-type pancreatic endoderm and spleen mesenchyme, revealing the developmental plasticity of the pancreas and that precise spatial and temporal control of tissue interactions are required for development of both organs.

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