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Sox17 Eyed in Pancreas Biliary System Development

Mouse model offers insights into a potential cure for type 1 diabetes

MONDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- The Sox17 gene appears to play a necessary role in whether embryonic progenitor cells develop into pancreatic or biliary cells, according to research published in the July 21 issue of Developmental Cell that offers insights into a potential cure for type 1 diabetes.

Jason R. Spence, Ph.D., of the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, and colleagues used mouse experiments to explore cell-intrinsic pathways that separate the biliary system, pancreas, and liver lineages from a common progenitor.

The researchers found that the biliary system and ventral pancreas develop from a common progenitor that is separate from the liver, contrary to earlier belief. Sox17 is a crucial regulator of the early segregation of these organ lineages. At embryonic day 8.5, deleting Sox17 leads to the loss of biliary structures and development of pancreatic tissue in the liver bud and common duct. The authors also note that Sox17 overexpression, however, inhibits pancreatic development.

"These data describe a SOX17-based model for extrahepatic biliary development from a PDX1 progenitor," the authors conclude. "This model could provide insight into the causes of human congenital abnormalities affecting both pancreas and biliary tree. Moreover, a better understanding of how endoderm organ lineages are initially segregated will inform efforts at directed differentiation of human embryonic stem cells into endoderm derivatives."

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