Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Newly Identified Gene May Prompt Pancreas Cells To Form

Date:
April 8, 2008
Source:
Rockefeller University
Summary:
Before a pancreas is a pancreas, it's part of the endoderm, one of three layers of cells in a developing embryo that eventually form its organs. Researchers have now uncovered key genetic signals involved in how the pancreas begins forming, a finding they say might lead to regenerative therapies for patients with certain forms of diabetes whose pancreases no longer function.

Before a pancreas is a pancreas, it’s part of the endoderm, one of three layers of cells in a developing embryo that eventually form its organs. Researchers at Rockefeller University have now uncovered key genetic signals involved in how the pancreas begins forming, a finding they say might lead to regenerative therapies for patients with certain forms of diabetes whose pancreases no longer function.

In both frogs and zebrafish, vertebrates that are studied as model organisms because they develop externally and can be easily viewed and manipulated, researchers had some understanding of the genetic signals that cause the endodermic tissue to begin developing into pancreatic tissue. They knew that the gene Gata5 is expressed at the earliest stage of endoderm development, and that at the initiation of organogenesis, in which the organ is already starting to form, the pancreatic marker gene Pdx1 is turned on. But they were missing a key step in the middle.

To find out what happens between Gata5 and Pdx1, Ali Brivanlou, head of the Laboratory of Molecular Vertebrate Embryology, and Francesca Spagnoli, a postdoc in his lab, used a gene microarray in frog embryos to identify 141 genes whose expression depends on Gata5 signaling. Spagnoli then independently verified these genes in other model systems, eventually eliminating all but one: TGIF2. “We found that TGIF2 was a key target of Gata5,” she says. “It is expressed early in the region known to give rise to the pancreas.”

No one knows the function of TGIF2 in adult cells, although overexpression has been found in some ovarian cancers, Spagnoli says. The gene, however, is a member of the TGIF family of genes, one of which, TGIF1, is expressed in the brain and has been linked to a structural abnormality of the brain. “This is interesting to us because there are a lot of similarities between gene expression in the nervous system and that in the pancreas, which doesn’t occur in other organ systems,” she says.

To find out what role TGIF2 plays in pancreatic organogenesis, Spagnoli eliminated its expression in frog embryos and found that a larger liver developed, but no pancreas. The researchers then discovered that TGIF2 controls the expression of the BMP gene, which is part of a family of proteins that play regulatory roles in growth and development. In this case, TGIF2 acts primarily by restricting BMP signaling in the endoderm to allow the formation of the pancreas.

“This finding connects Gata5 to Pdx1, covering the gap of knowledge in the window of time between endoderm induction, patterning and organogenesis,” Spagnoli says. “We find that TGIF2 behaves as a modifier, inhibiting BMP signaling so that Pdx1 can be expressed.” The results are reported in the February 1 issue of the journal Development.

What this means, Spagnoli says, is that researchers might be able to coax a pancreas to form from embryonic tissue by blocking BMP expression. “Already, I have found that if I add some commercial agent that blocks BMP signaling to cell culture, I can induce development of pancreatic cells,” Spagnoli says. “The bottom line is that we hope our findings can be applied to cell-based therapy to create new pancreatic cells for patients who desperately need them.”

The study was funded by grants from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Emerald Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Journal reference: The Gata5 target, TGIF2, defines the pancreatic region by modulating BMP signals within the endoderm. Development 135(3): 451–461 (February 1, 2008)


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University. "Newly Identified Gene May Prompt Pancreas Cells To Form." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 April 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080403224455.htm>.
Rockefeller University. (2008, April 8). Newly Identified Gene May Prompt Pancreas Cells To Form. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080403224455.htm
Rockefeller University. "Newly Identified Gene May Prompt Pancreas Cells To Form." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080403224455.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Friday, April 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) President Barack Obama gave a briefing Thursday announcing 8 million people have signed up under the Affordable Care Act. He blasted continued Republican efforts to repeal the law. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins