The role of miRNA processing in the maintenance of adult pancreatic acinar cell identity and during the initiation and progression of pancreatic neoplasia has not been studied in detail. In this work, we deleted Dicer specifically in adult pancreatic acinar cells, with or without simultaneous activation of oncogenic Kras. We found that Dicer is essential for the maintenance of acinar cell identity. Acinar cells lacking Dicer showed increased plasticity, as evidenced by loss of polarity, initiation of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM). In the context of oncogenic Kras activation, the initiation of ADM and pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) were both highly sensitive to Dicer gene dosage. Homozygous Dicer deletion accelerated the formation of ADM but not PanIN. In contrast, heterozygous Dicer deletion accelerated PanIN initiation, revealing complex roles for Dicer in the regulation of both normal and neoplastic pancreatic epithelial identity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas