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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Jul;87(7):3475-85.

c-Myc controls proliferation versus differentiation in human pancreatic endocrine cells.

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Cancer Center, University of California-San Diego, 1st Floor Building 7, 10901 North Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Using immortalized human pancreatic endocrine cell lines, we have shown previously that differentiation into hormone-expressing cells requires cell-cell contact acting in synergy with the homeodomain transcription factor pancreatic duodenal homeobox-1 (PDX-1). Although differentiation is associated with a decrease in cell proliferation, the mechanisms behind this relationship are not known. Using TRM-6, a delta cell line, and betalox5, a beta-cell line, we show here that cell-cell contact and subsequent endocrine differentiation lead to a down-regulation of the c-myc protooncogene. Overexpression of c-Myc obtained with an inducible c-Myc-estrogen receptor fusion protein results in an increase in cell proliferation and the ablation of hormone expression. Moreover, we show that although c-Myc is expressed in a subset of cells from the human fetal and adult pancreas, it is absent in differentiated endocrine cells. The mechanism by which c-Myc interferes with hormone expression may be through effects on the homeodomain transcription factor PDX-1, as immunostaining for PDX-1 in cells with activated c-Myc revealed a redistribution of PDX-1 from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. These results suggest that c-Myc plays a central role in a cell-cell contact-mediated switch mechanism by which cell division vs. differentiation in endocrine cells is determined.

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