Pancreatic Mesenchyme Regulates Epithelial Organogenesis throughout Development

Diabetes Center, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America.
PLoS Biology (Impact Factor: 9.34). 09/2011; 9(9):e1001143. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001143
Source: PubMed


The developing pancreatic epithelium gives rise to all endocrine and exocrine cells of the mature organ. During organogenesis, the epithelial cells receive essential signals from the overlying mesenchyme. Previous studies, focusing on ex vivo tissue explants or complete knockout mice, have identified an important role for the mesenchyme in regulating the expansion of progenitor cells in the early pancreas epithelium. However, due to the lack of genetic tools directing expression specifically to the mesenchyme, the potential roles of this supporting tissue in vivo, especially in guiding later stages of pancreas organogenesis, have not been elucidated. We employed transgenic tools and fetal surgical techniques to ablate mesenchyme via Cre-mediated mesenchymal expression of Diphtheria Toxin (DT) at the onset of pancreas formation, and at later developmental stages via in utero injection of DT into transgenic mice expressing the Diphtheria Toxin receptor (DTR) in this tissue. Our results demonstrate that mesenchymal cells regulate pancreatic growth and branching at both early and late developmental stages by supporting proliferation of precursors and differentiated cells, respectively. Interestingly, while cell differentiation was not affected, the expansion of both the endocrine and exocrine compartments was equally impaired. To further elucidate signals required for mesenchymal cell function, we eliminated β-catenin signaling and determined that it is a critical pathway in regulating mesenchyme survival and growth. Our study presents the first in vivo evidence that the embryonic mesenchyme provides critical signals to the epithelium throughout pancreas organogenesis. The findings are novel and relevant as they indicate a critical role for the mesenchyme during late expansion of endocrine and exocrine compartments. In addition, our results provide a molecular mechanism for mesenchymal expansion and survival by identifying β-catenin signaling as an essential mediator of this process. These results have implications for developing strategies to expand pancreas progenitors and β-cells for clinical transplantation.

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Available from: Tippi C Mackenzie
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    • "Pancreatic development proceeds from a cluster of endodermal epithelial cells that give rise to a highly specialized, heterogeneous endocrine and exocrine organ. The early pancreatic bud is enveloped by mesenchyme, which is required for pancreas development and is thought to provide inductive signals for the specification of various cell types (Golosow and Grobstein, 1962; Landsman et al., 2011). Beginning at E13.5, the mouse pancreas changes rapidly during the 'secondary transition,' which is marked by dramatic increases in endocrine cell numbers and acinar cell differentiation (Rutter et al., 1968). "
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    ABSTRACT: The intracellular protein p120 catenin aids in maintenance of cell-cell adhesion by regulating E-cadherin stability in epithelial cells. In an effort to understand the biology of p120 catenin in pancreas development, we ablated p120 catenin in mouse pancreatic progenitor cells, which resulted in deletion of p120 catenin in all epithelial lineages of the developing mouse pancreas: islet, acinar, centroacinar, and ductal. Loss of p120 catenin resulted in formation of dilated epithelial tubules, expansion of ductal epithelia, loss of acinar cells, and the induction of pancreatic inflammation. Aberrant branching morphogenesis and tubulogenesis were also observed. Throughout development, the phenotype became more severe, ultimately resulting in an abnormal pancreas comprised primarily of duct-like epithelium expressing early progenitor markers. In pancreatic tissue lacking p120 catenin, overall epithelial architecture remained intact; however, actin cytoskeleton organization was disrupted, an observation associated with increased cytoplasmic PKCζ. Although we observed reduced expression of adherens junction proteins E-cadherin, β-catenin, and α-catenin, p120 catenin family members p0071, ARVCF, and δ-catenin remained present at cell membranes in homozygous p120(f/f) pancreases, potentially providing stability for maintenance of epithelial integrity during development. Adult mice homozygous for deletion of p120 catenin displayed dilated main pancreatic ducts, chronic pancreatitis, acinar to ductal metaplasia (ADM), and mucinous metaplasia that resembles PanIN1a. Taken together, our data demonstrate an essential role for p120 catenin in pancreas development. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2014 · Developmental Biology
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    • "As an alternative for the derivation of a normal counterpart, one could attempt human islets, shown to contain a distinct population of mesenchymal stem cells able to form CSPG4-positive clusters not of ductal, endothelial, or hematopoietic origin, which however, co-express mesenchymal and pancreatic endocrine markers [10]. Another way might be to establish in vitro systems reproducing the process of pancreatic differentiation [57]. For example, culturing mouse embryonic stem cells on a monolayer of mesonephros-derived cell line M15 replicates a multistep divergence of the ectoderm, mesendoderm and definitive endoderm, all the way to PDX1-expressing progenitors. "
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    ABSTRACT: CSPG4 marks pericytes, undifferentiated precursors and tumor cells. We assessed whether the shed ectodomain of CSPG4 (sCSPG4) might circulate and reflect potential changes in CSPG4 tissue expression (pCSPG4) due to desmoplastic and malignant aberrations occurring in pancreatic tumors. Serum sCSPG4 was measured using ELISA in test (n = 83) and validation (n = 221) cohorts comprising donors (n = 11+26) and patients with chronic pancreatitis (n = 11+20) or neoplasms: benign (serous cystadenoma SCA, n = 13+20), premalignant (intraductal dysplastic IPMNs, n = 9+55), and malignant (IPMN-associated invasive carcinomas, n = 4+14; ductal adenocarcinomas, n = 35+86). Pancreatic pCSPG4 expression was evaluated using qRT-PCR (n = 139), western blot analysis and immunohistochemistry. sCSPG4 was found in circulation, but its level was significantly lower in pancreatic patients than in donors. Selective maintenance was observed in advanced IPMNs and PDACs and showed a nodal association while lacking prognostic relevance. Pancreatic pCSPG4 expression was preserved or elevated, whereby neoplastic cells lacked pCSPG4 or tended to overexpress without shedding. Extreme pancreatic overexpression, membranous exposure and tissuehigh/seralow-discordance highlighted stroma-poor benign cystic neoplasm. SCA is known to display hypoxic markers and coincide with von-Hippel-Lindau and Peutz-Jeghers syndromes, in which pVHL and LBK1 mutations affect hypoxic signaling pathways. In vitro testing confined pCSPG4 overexpression to normal mesenchymal but not epithelial cells, and a third of tested carcinoma cell lines; however, only the latter showed pCSPG4-responsiveness to chronic hypoxia. siRNA-based knockdowns failed to reduce the malignant potential of either normoxic or hypoxic cells. Thus, overexpression of the newly established conditional hypoxic indicator, CSPG4, is apparently non-pathogenic in pancreatic malignancies but might mark distinct epithelial lineage and contribute to cell polarity disorders. Surficial retention on tumor cells renders CSPG4 an attractive therapeutic target. Systemic 'drop and restoration' alterations accompanying IPMN and PDAC progression indicate that the interference of pancreatic diseases with local and remote shedding/release of sCSPG4 into circulation deserves broad diagnostic exploration.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · PLoS ONE
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    • "Thereafter, as levels of ΔPD-PAX6 decline, delamination and migration of such progenitors into the surrounding mesenchyme is promoted. Ultimately, release from M2 macrophages interactions triggering ΔPD-PAX6 up-regulation may be required for endocrine-committed progenitors to resume cell proliferation away from the ducts in response to other mesenchymal cues and expand into islet cell clusters [22], [24]. This expectation is consistent with our results in the Id1/Id3 deficient mouse, showing that embryonic epithelial transplants exposed to a strong M2 macrophage inflammatory milieu exhibit enhanced frequency of endocrine committed cells emerging from the ducts, but decreased proliferation of their progeny in the islet clusters. "
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    ABSTRACT: Macrophages populate the mesenchymal compartment of all organs during embryogenesis and have been shown to support tissue organogenesis and regeneration by regulating remodeling of the extracellular microenvironment. Whether this mesenchymal component can also dictate select developmental decisions in epithelia is unknown. Here, using the embryonic pancreatic epithelium as model system, we show that macrophages drive the epithelium to execute two developmentally important choices, i.e. the exit from cell cycle and the acquisition of a migratory phenotype. We demonstrate that these developmental decisions are effectively imparted by macrophages activated toward an M2 fetal-like functional state, and involve modulation of the adhesion receptor NCAM and an uncommon "paired-less" isoform of the transcription factor PAX6 in the epithelium. Over-expression of this PAX6 variant in pancreatic epithelia controls both cell motility and cell cycle progression in a gene-dosage dependent fashion. Importantly, induction of these phenotypes in embryonic pancreatic transplants by M2 macrophages in vivo is associated with an increased frequency of endocrine-committed cells emerging from ductal progenitor pools. These results identify M2 macrophages as key effectors capable of coordinating epithelial cell cycle withdrawal and cell migration, two events critical to pancreatic progenitors' delamination and progression toward their differentiated fates.
    Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · PLoS ONE
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