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Cell Death Differ. 2006 Nov;13(11):1892-9. Epub 2006 Mar 3.

Ngn3 expression during postnatal in vitro beta cell neogenesis induced by the JAK/STAT pathway.

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  • 1Diabetes Research Center, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Free University of Brussels), Brussels 1090, Belgium.


The basic helix-loop-helix protein Neurogenin3 specifies precursor cells of the endocrine pancreas during embryonic development, and is thought to be absent postnatally. We have studied Ngn3 expression during in vitro generation of beta-cells from adult rat exocrine pancreas tissue treated with epidermal growth factor and leukaemia inhibitory factor. This treatment induced a transient expression of both Ngn3 and its upstream activator hepatocyte nuclear factor 6. Inhibition of EGF and LIF signalling by pharmacological antagonists of the JAK2/STAT3 pathway, or knockdown of Ngn3 by RNA interference prevented the generation of new insulin-positive cells. This study demonstrates that in vitro growth factor stimulation can induce recapitulation of an embryonic endocrine differentiation pathway in adult dedifferentiated exocrine cells. This could prove to be important for understanding the mechanism of beta-cell regeneration and for therapeutic ex vivo neogenesis of beta cells.

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