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Pancreatology. 2010;10(1):74-84. doi: 10.1159/000276895. Epub 2010 Mar 26.

Conservation of the TGFbeta/Labial homeobox signaling loop in endoderm-derived cells between Drosophila and mammals.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., USA.



Midgut formation in Drosophila melanogaster is dependent upon the integrity of a signaling loop in the endoderm which requires the TGFbeta-related peptide, Decapentaplegic, and the Hox transcription factor, Labial. Interestingly, although Labial-like homeobox genes are present in mammals, their participation in endoderm morphogenesis is not clearly understood.


We report the cloning, expression, localization, TGFbeta inducibility, and biochemical properties of the mammalian Labial-like homeobox, HoxA1, in exocrine pancreatic cells that are embryologically derived from the gut endoderm.


HoxA1 is expressed in pancreatic cell populations as two alternatively spliced messages, encoding proteins that share their N-terminal domain, but either lack or include the homeobox at the C-terminus. Transcriptional regulatory assays demonstrate that the shared N-terminal domain behaves as a strong transcriptional activator in exocrine pancreatic cells. HoxA1 is an early response gene for TGFbeta(1) in pancreatic epithelial cell populations and HoxA1 protein co-localizes with TGFbeta(1) receptors in the embryonic pancreatic epithelium at a time when exocrine pancreatic morphogenesis occurs (days E16 and E17).


These results report a role for HoxA1 in linking TGFbeta-mediated signaling to gene expression in pancreatic epithelial cell populations, thus suggesting a high degree of conservation for a TGFbeta/labial signaling loop in endoderm-derived cells between Drosophila and mammals. and IAP.

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