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Authors Nair GG, Odorico JS
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Journal Stem Cells Int Volume: 2016 Pages: 6939438
Publish Date 2016
PubMed ID 27066080
PMC ID 4811216

Transcription factors are tools repetitively used by the embryo to generate a variety of lineages. Hence, their context of activation is an important determinant of their ability to specifically trigger certain cell fates, but not others. The context is also consequential when considering directing differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs). In this study, we sought to assess the context of pancreatic transcription factor 1a (PTF1a) activation in reference to its propancreatic effects in mouse ESCs (mESCs). We hypothesized that an enriched endodermal population would respond to PTF1a and trigger the pancreatic program more effectively than a spontaneously differentiated population. Using an in vitro model of pancreas development that we recently established, we found that inducing PTF1a in highly enriched definitive endoderm did not promote pancreatic differentiation but induction in more differentiated endoderm, specifically posterior foregut endoderm, did form pancreatic progenitors. These progenitors never underwent terminal differentiation to endocrine or acinar phenotype. However, a short 3D culture period, prior to PTF1a induction, led to the generation of monohormonal insulin(+) cells and amylase-expressing cells. Our findings suggest that enriched posterior foregut endoderm is competent to respond to PTF1a’s propancreatic activity; but a 3D culture environment is essential for terminal differentiation of pancreatic progenitors.

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