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Regulation of Neurod1 Contributes to the Lineage Potential of Neurogenin3+ Endocrine Precursor Cells in the Pancreas

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Keywords
  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology
  • Endocrinology
Disciplines
  • Medicine

Abstract

During pancreatic development, transcription factor cascades gradually commit precursor populations to the different endocrine cell fate pathways. Although mutational analyses have defined the functions of many individual pancreatic transcription factors, the integrative transcription factor networks required to regulate lineage specification, as well as their sites of action, are poorly understood. In this study, we investigated where and how the transcription factors Nkx2.2 and Neurod1 genetically interact to differentially regulate endocrine cell specification. In an Nkx2.2 null background, we conditionally deleted Neurod1 in the Pdx1+ pancreatic progenitor cells, the Neurog3+ endocrine progenitor cells, or the glucagon+ alpha cells. These studies determined that, in the absence of Nkx2.2 activity, removal of Neurod1 from the Pdx1+ or Neurog3+ progenitor populations is sufficient to reestablish the specification of the PP and epsilon cell lineages. Alternatively, in the absence of Nkx2.2, removal of Neurod1 from the Pdx1+ pancreatic progenitor population, but not the Neurog3+ endocrine progenitor cells, restores alpha cell specification. Subsequent in vitro reporter assays demonstrated that Nkx2.2 represses Neurod1 in alpha cells. Based on these findings, we conclude that, although Nkx2.2 and Neurod1 are both necessary to promote beta cell differentiation, Nkx2.2 must repress Neurod1 in a Pdx1+ pancreatic progenitor population to appropriately commit a subset of Neurog3+ endocrine progenitor cells to the alpha cell lineage. These results are consistent with the proposed idea that Neurog3+ endocrine progenitor cells represent a heterogeneous population of unipotent cells, each restricted to a particular endocrine lineage.

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