The identification of secreted factors that can selectively stimulate the generation of insulin producing β-cells from stem and/or progenitor cells represent a significant step in the development of stem cell-based β-cell replacement therapy. By elucidating the molecular mechanisms that regulate the generation of β-cells during normal pancreatic development such putative factors may be identified. In the mouse, β-cells increase markedly in numbers from embryonic day (e) 14.5 and onwards, but the extra-cellular signal(s) that promotes the selective generation of β-cells at these stages remains to be identified. Here we show that the retinoic acid (RA) synthesizing enzyme Raldh1 is expressed in developing mouse and human pancreas at stages when β-cells are generated. We also provide evidence that RA induces the generation of Ngn3- endocrine progenitor cells and stimulates their further differentiation into β-cells by activating a program of cell differentiation that recapitulates the normal temporal program of β-cell differentiation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)