Pancreatic β cell mass for appropriate blood glucose control is established during early postnatal life. β cell proliferative capacity declines postnatally, but the extrinsic cues and intracellular signals that cause this decline remain unknown. To obtain a high-resolution map of β cell transcriptome dynamics after birth, we generated single-cell RNA-seq data of β cells from multiple postnatal time points and ordered cells based on transcriptional similarity using a new analytical tool. This analysis captured signatures of immature, proliferative β cells and established high expression of amino acid metabolic, mitochondrial, and Srf/Jun/Fos transcription factor genes as their hallmark feature. Experimental validation revealed high metabolic activity in immature β cells and a role for reactive oxygen species and Srf/Jun/Fos transcription factors in driving postnatal β cell proliferation and mass expansion. Our work provides the first high-resolution molecular characterization of state changes in postnatal β cells and paves the way for the identification of novel therapeutic targets to stimulate β cell regeneration.
Keywords: Srf; amino acid metabolism; beta cell; catalase; mitochondrial; oxidative phosphorylation; proliferation; reactive oxygen species; single-cell RNA-seq; transcription factor.
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