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Development. 2002 May;129(10):2447-57.

Direct evidence for the pancreatic lineage: NGN3+ cells are islet progenitors and are distinct from duct progenitors.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.


The location and lineage of cells that give rise to endocrine islets during embryogenesis has not been established nor has the origin or identity of adult islet stem cells. We have employed an inducible Cre-ER(TM)-LoxP system to indelibly mark the progeny of cells expressing either Ngn3 or Pdx1 at different stages of development. The results provide direct evidence that NGN3+ cells are islet progenitors during embryogenesis and in adult mice. In addition, we find that cells expressing Pdx1 give rise to all three types of pancreatic tissue: exocrine, endocrine and duct. Furthermore, exocrine and endocrine cells are derived from Pdx1-expressing progenitors throughout embryogenesis. By contrast, the pancreatic duct arises from PDX1+ progenitors that are set aside around embryonic day 10.5 (E9.5-E11.5). These findings suggest that lineages for exocrine, endocrine islet and duct progenitors are committed at mid-gestation.

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