Genetic inducible fate mapping in larval zebrafish reveals origins of adult insulin-producing β-cells

Yiyun Wang, Meritxell Rovira, Shamila Yusuff, Michael J. Parsons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The Notch-signaling pathway is known to be fundamental in controlling pancreas differentiation. We now report on using Crebased fate mapping to indelibly label pancreatic Notch-responsive cells (PNCs) at larval stages and follow their fate in the adult pancreas. We show that the PNCs represent a population of progenitors that can differentiate to multiple lineages, including adult ductal cells, centroacinar cells (CACs) and endocrine cells. These endocrine cells include the insulin-producing β-cells. CACs are a functional component of the exocrine pancreas; however, our fate-mapping results indicate that CACs are more closely related to endocrine cells by lineage as they share a common progenitor. The majority of the exocrine pancreas consists of the secretory acinar cells; however, we only detect a very limited contribution of PNCs to acinar cells. To explain this observation we re-examined early events in pancreas formation. The pancreatic anlage that gives rise to the exocrine pancreas is located in the ventral gut endoderm (called the ventral bud). Ptf1a is a gene required for exocrine pancreas development and is first expressed as the ventral bud forms. We used transgenic marker lines to observe both the domain of cells expressing ptf1a and cells responding to Notch signaling. We do not detect any overlap in expression and demonstrate that the ventral bud consists of two cell populations: a ptf1-expressing domain and a Notch-responsive progenitor core. As pancreas organogenesis continues, the ventral bud derived PNCs align along the duct, remain multipotent and later in development differentiate to form secondary islets, ducts and CACs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)609-617
Number of pages9
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 15 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Notch-signaling
  • Pancreas development
  • Pancreatic progenitors
  • Zebrafish
  • β-cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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