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Development. 2013 Feb;140(4):751-64. doi: 10.1242/dev.090159. Epub 2013 Jan 16.

Spatiotemporal patterns of multipotentiality in Ptf1a-expressing cells during pancreas organogenesis and injury-induced facultative restoration.

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Vanderbilt University Program in Developmental Biology, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN 37232, USA.


Pancreatic multipotent progenitor cells (MPCs) produce acinar, endocrine and duct cells during organogenesis, but their existence and location in the mature organ remain contentious. We used inducible lineage-tracing from the MPC-instructive gene Ptf1a to define systematically in mice the switch of Ptf1a(+) MPCs to unipotent proacinar competence during the secondary transition, their rapid decline during organogenesis, and absence from the mature organ. Between E11.5 and E15.5, we describe tip epithelium heterogeneity, suggesting that putative Ptf1a(+)Sox9(+)Hnf1β(+) MPCs are intermingled with Ptf1a(HI)Sox9(LO) proacinar progenitors. In the adult, pancreatic duct ligation (PDL) caused facultative reactivation of multipotency factors (Sox9 and Hnf1β) in Ptf1a(+) acini, which undergo rapid reprogramming to duct cells and longer-term reprogramming to endocrine cells, including insulin(+) β-cells that are mature by the criteria of producing Pdx1(HI), Nkx6.1(+) and MafA(+). These Ptf1a lineage-derived endocrine/β-cells are likely formed via Ck19(+)/Hnf1β(+)/Sox9(+) ductal and Ngn3(+) endocrine progenitor intermediates. Acinar to endocrine/β-cell transdifferentiation was enhanced by combining PDL with pharmacological elimination of pre-existing β-cells. Thus, we show that acinar cells, without exogenously introduced factors, can regain aspects of embryonic multipotentiality under injury, and convert into mature β-cells.

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