The beta (β)-cell mass formed during embryogenesis is amplified by cell replication during fetal and early postnatal development. Thereafter, β cells become functionally mature, and their mass is maintained by a low rate of replication. For those few β cells that replicate in adult life, it is not known how replication is initiated nor whether this occurs in a specialized subset of β cells. We capitalized on a YAP overexpression system to induce replication of stem-cell-derived β cells and, by single-cell RNA sequencing, identified an upregulation of the leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF) pathway. Activation of the LIF pathway induces replication of human β cells in vitro and in vivo. The expression of the LIF receptor is restricted to a subset of transcriptionally distinct human β cells with increased proliferative capacity. This study delineates novel genetic networks that control the replication of LIF-responsive, replication-competent human β cells.
Keywords: CEBPD; LIF; STAT3; beta cells; beta-cell regeneration; beta-cell replication; diabetes; single cell.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Conflict of interest statement
Declaration of Interests D.A.M. is a consultant for Semma Therapeutics and serves on the Board of Directors of BlueBirdBio. All other authors declare no conflicts of interest.
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