From endoderm to pancreas: a multistep journey
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- Spagnoli, F.M. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. (2007) 64: 2378. doi:10.1007/s00018-007-7184-x
The formation of the vertebrate pancreas is a complex process that typifies the basic steps of embryonic development. It involves the establishment of competence, specification, signaling from neighboring tissues, morphogenesis, and the elaboration of tissue-specific genetic networks. A full analysis of this multistep process will help us to understand classic principles of embryonic development. Furthermore, this will provide the blueprint for experimental programming of pancreas formation from embryonic stem cells in the context of diabetes cell-therapy. Although in the past decade many studies have contributed to a solid foundation for understanding pancreatogenesis, important gaps persist in our knowledge of early pancreas formation. This review will summarize the current understanding of the early mechanisms coming into play to pattern the “pre-pancreatic” region within the endoderm and, gradually, specify the pancreatic tissue.