Mesenchymal-epithelial interactions are pivotal for proper pancreatic growth and development. The pancreatic progenitor cells present in the early pancreatic anlagen proliferate and eventually give rise to all pancreatic cell types. The Fibroblast Growth Factor 2b (FGFR2b) high-affinity ligand Fibroblast Growth Factor 10 (FGF10) has been linked to pancreatic epithelial cell proliferation and we have previously shown that Notch signalling controls pancreatic cell differentiation via lateral inhibition. By overexpressing FGF10 under the control of the Ipf1/Pdx1 promoter in mice, we have shown that persistent FGF10 activation in the embryonic pancreas of transgenic mice perturbs pancreatic epithelial cell proliferation and also inhibits pancreatic cell differentiation by maintaining Notch activation. In the Ipf1/Fgf10 transgenic mice, the pancreatic epithelial cells are ‘locked’ in an undifferentiated progenitor-like state with sustained proliferative capacity. Collectively, our data suggest a key role for FGFR2b/FGF10 signalling in the regulation of pancreatic growth and differentiation and that FGFR2b/FGF10 signalling interact with the Notch signalling pathway.
Glucose homeostasis in mammals is critically dependent on co-ordinated glucose uptake, oxidative metabolism and insulin secretion in β-cells. Although, several key genes controlling various aspects of glucose sensing, glucose metabolism, insulin expression and secretion have been identified, we know relatively little about the molecular mechanisms that induce and maintain the expression of genes required for glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS) in β-cells. Attenuation of FGFR1c signalling leads to diabetes in mice. Overexpression of FGF2, a high-affinity FGFR1c ligand, under the control of the Ipf1/Pdx1 promoter also leads to diabetes in mice. The Ipf1/Fgf2 mice present with normal endocrine and exocrine differentiation but display impaired glucose-stimulated insulin secretion (GSIS), perturbed expression of genes required for glucose sensing uptake together with oxidative metabolism and increased expression of the FGF-signalling inhibitors Spry-2 and Pyst1/MKP3 in β-cells. Thus, stringent control of FGF signalling activation appears crucial for the maintenance of the regulatory circuit that ensures proper GSIS in pancreatic β-cells and hence normoglycaemia.
The Wnt family of ligands via their receptors Frizzled (Frz) have been shown to mediate mesenchymal-epithelial interactions and cell proliferation in a variety of different systems. Expression of a plethora of Wnt ligands and Frz receptors has been previously reported in the pancreas and mice missexpressing Wnt1 and Wnt5a under the Ipf1/Pdx1 promoter display severely perturbed development. Here, we show the temporal and spatial expression of Wnt4, Wnt7b and Frz3 at different stages of pancreas development. To elucidate the role of Wnt signalling in the pancreas, we overexpressed a dominant negative form of mouse Frz8 under the Ipf1/Pdx1 promoter in mice. The Ipf1/Frz8CRD mice display severe pancreatic hypoplasia demonstrating that attenuation of Wnt signalling in the pancreas leads to perturbed pancreatic growth. Nevertheless, the transgenic mice present with normal endocrine and exocrine differentiation and remain normoglycaemic. The maintenance of normoglycaemia in these mice appears to be the consequence of a relative increase in endocrine cell number per pancreatic area combined with enhanced insulin biosynthesis and insulin secretion. Collectively our data provide evidence that Wnt signalling is required pancreatic growth but not adult β-cell function.