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Mech Dev. 2002 Jul;115(1-2):171-6.

Expression pattern of IAPP and prohormone convertase 1/3 reveals a distinctive set of endocrine cells in the embryonic pancreas.

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UCSF Diabetes Center, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143-0534, USA.


The earliest endocrine cells in the developing pancreas make glucagon and are described as alpha cells. We show here that these cells express islet amyloid polypeptide and prohormone convertase 1/3 (PC1/3), proteins that are not expressed by mature alpha cells, but are found in beta cells. PC1/3 converts proglucagon to the functionally distinct hormones glucagon-like peptide (GLP)-1 and GLP-2 rather than glucagon. Despite these differences, the early proglucagon-positive cells express, as do mature alpha cells, the POU domain transcription factor Brn-4, and do not express the beta cell factor pdx-1. The early production of atypical peptide hormones by these cells suggests that they could play an important role locally or systemically in the development of the embryo.

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