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Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2010 Oct 26;328(1-2):80-6. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2010.07.006. Epub 2010 Jul 30.

A factor(s) secreted from MIN-6 beta-cells stimulates differentiation of definitive endoderm enriched embryonic stem cells towards a pancreatic lineage.

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School of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Institute of Medical Sciences, Foresterhill, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK.


In the mouse the developing pancreas is controlled by contact with, and signalling molecules secreted from, surrounding cells. These factors are best studied using explant cultures of embryonic tissue. The present study was undertaken to determine whether embryonic stem (ES) cells could be used as an alternative model in vitro system to investigate the role of cell-cell interactions in the developing pancreas. Transwell culture experiments showed that MIN-6 beta-cells secreted a factor or factors that promoted differentiation of ES cell derived definitive endoderm enriched cells towards a pancreatic fate. Further studies using MIN-6 condition medium showed that the factor(s) involved was restricted to MIN-6 cells, could be concentrated with ammonium sulphate, and was sensitive to heat treatment, suggesting that it was a protein or peptide. Further analyses showed that insulin or proinsulin failed to mimic the effects of the conditioned media. Collectively, these results suggest that beta-cells secrete a factor(s) capable of controlling their own differentiation and maturation. The culture system described here presents unique advantages in the identification and characterisation of these factors.

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