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Development. 2007 Feb;134(3):427-38. Epub 2006 Dec 21.

Pancreas and beta-cell development: from the actual to the possible.

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University of Utah, Department of Human Genetics, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.


The development of insulin-producing pancreatic beta (beta)-cells represents the culmination of a complex developmental program. Cells of the posterior foregut assume a pancreatic identity, cells within the expanding pancreatic primordia adopt an endocrine fate, and a subset of these precursors becomes competent to generate beta-cells. Postnatally, beta-cells are primarily maintained by self-duplication rather than new differentiation. Although major gaps in our knowledge still persist, experiments across several organisms have shed increasing light on the steps of beta-cell specification and differentiation. Increasing our understanding of the extrinsic, as well as intrinsic, mechanisms that control these processes should facilitate efforts to regenerate this important cell type in humans.

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