- Yang YP, Magnuson MA, Stein R, Wright CV. The mammal-specific Pdx1 Area II enhancer has multiple essential functions in early endocrine cell specification and postnatal β-cell maturation. Development (Cambridge, England). 2017 Jan 15;144(2). 248-257. PMID: 27993987 [PubMed].
The transcription factor Pdx1 is required for multiple aspects of pancreatic organogenesis. It remains unclear to what extent Pdx1 expression and function depend upon trans-activation through 5' conserved cis-regulatory regions and, in particular, whether the mammal-specific Area II (-2139 to -1958 bp) affects minor or major aspects of organogenesis. We show that Area II is a primary effector of endocrine-selective transcription in epithelial multipotent cells, nascent endocrine progenitors, and differentiating and mature β cells in vivo Pdx1(ΔAREAII/-) mice exhibit a massive reduction in endocrine progenitor cells and progeny hormone-producing cells, indicating that Area II activity is fundamental to mounting an effective endocrine lineage-specification program within the multipotent cell population. Creating an Area II-deleted state within already specified Neurog3-expressing endocrine progenitor cells increased the proportion of glucagon(+) α relative to insulin(+) β cells, associated with the transcriptional and epigenetic derepression of the α-cell-determining Arx gene in endocrine progenitors. There were also glucagon and insulin co-expressing cells, and β cells that were incapable of maturation. Creating the Pdx1(ΔAREAII) state after cells entered an insulin-expressing stage led to immature and dysfunctional islet β cells carrying abnormal chromatin marking in vital β-cell-associated genes. Therefore, trans-regulatory integration through Area II mediates a surprisingly extensive range of progenitor and β-cell-specific Pdx1 functions.