Objective: Adult islet neogenesis is believed to recapitulate elements of pancreatic endocrine development. Identifying factors that regulate islet neogenesis-associated protein (INGAP) gene activity could provide links to pancreas development.
Methods: Predicted transcriptional regulators of INGAP were screened in an INGAP-promoter-reporter assay. Based upon their temporal expression, the occurrence of INGAP-positive cells during pancreas embryonic development were studied.
Results: Pancreatic transcription factors, PDX-1, Ngn3, NeuroD, and Isl-1, activated the INGAP promoter, but PAX4, PAX6, and Nkx2.2 did not. The INGAP-positive cells were present in the developing pancreatic bud of the mouse embryo. Emerging clusters of unorganized endocrine cells were INGAP positive. These cells coexpressed insulin or somatostatin, but glucagon-expressing cells remained distinct. The INGAP-positive cells were also detected in the maturing neonatal endocrine cells organized into islets. In direct contrast to the embryo, glucagon localized with most INGAP-positive cells in the postnatal endocrine cells. The INGAP-positive cells juxtaposed pancreatic duct cells. A subset of 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine-positive/INGAP-positive cells was detected in the neonatal pancreas.
Conclusions: These data implicate INGAP and/or Reg family proteins in endocrine cell patterning during embryonic development and suggest that INGAP immunoreactivity is a key marker associated with early endocrine cells.