Origin of pancreatic endocrine cells from biliary duct epithelium


We describe an explant culture system to study the formation of pancreatic-type endocrine cells by the biliary tract. In this model, β-cells and other endocrine cells appear in the biliary duct epithelium and their number increases. Evidence for an origin from the duct epithelium is threefold. Firstly, differentiating cells transiently co-express insulin and bind Dolichos lectin. Secondly, β-cells in cultures isolated from Alb-Cre-R26R-LacZ mice are β-galactosidase positive. Thirdly, co-culture of biliary epithelium and ROSA26 pancreatic buds shows that endocrine cells do not migrate from the pancreas. The expression of the pancreatic transcription factors Pdx1, HNF6 and Sox9 is widespread, as is Hes1, which represses endocrine development, while that of Ngn3, which is a proendocrine transcription factor, is transient, consistent with an early stage of endocrine cell differentiation. Nicotinamide will increase the number of β-cells formed, while EGF+LIF completely inhibits their formation.

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Correspondence to J. M. W. Slack.

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Received 21 July 2008; received after revision 14 August 2008; accepted 21 August 2008

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Eberhard, D., Tosh, D. & Slack, J.M.W. Origin of pancreatic endocrine cells from biliary duct epithelium. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 65, 3467–3480 (2008) doi:10.1007/s00018-008-8427-1

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  • Pancreas development
  • liver development
  • β-cells
  • Pdx1
  • Hes1
  • Ngn3
  • extrahepatic biliary system
  • gall bladder development