The nuclear hormone receptor family member NR5A2 controls aspects of multipotent progenitor cell formation and acinar differentiation during pancreatic organogenesis

Michael A. Hale, Galvin H. Swift, Chinh Q. Hoang, Tye G. Deering, Toshi Masui, Youn Kyoung Lee, Jumin Xue, Raymond J. MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Scopus citations


The orphan nuclear receptor NR5A2 is necessary for the stem-like properties of the epiblast of the pre-gastrulation embryo and for cellular and physiological homeostasis of endoderm-derived organs postnatally. Using conditional gene inactivation, we show that Nr5a2 also plays crucial regulatory roles during organogenesis. During the formation of the pancreas, Nr5a2 is necessary for the expansion of the nascent pancreatic epithelium, for the subsequent formation of the multipotent progenitor cell (MPC) population that gives rise to pre-acinar cells and bipotent cells with ductal and islet endocrine potential, and for the formation and differentiation of acinar cells. At birth, the NR5A2-deficient pancreas has defects in all three epithelial tissues: a partial loss of endocrine cells, a disrupted ductal tree and a >90% deficit of acini. The acinar defects are due to a combination of fewer MPCs, deficient allocation of those MPCs to pre-acinar fate, disruption of acinar morphogenesis and incomplete acinar cell differentiation. NR5A2 controls these developmental processes directly as well as through regulatory interactions with other pancreatic transcriptional regulators, including PTF1A, MYC, GATA4, FOXA2, RBPJL and MIST1 (BHLHA15). In particular, Nr5a2 and Ptf1a establish mutually reinforcing regulatory interactions and collaborate to control developmentally regulated pancreatic genes by binding to shared transcriptional regulatory regions. At the final stage of acinar cell development, the absence of NR5A2 affects the expression of Ptf1a and its acinar specific partner Rbpjl, so that the few acinar cells that form do not complete differentiation. Nr5a2 controls several temporally distinct stages of pancreatic development that involve regulatory mechanisms relevant to pancreatic oncogenesis and the maintenance of the exocrine phenotype.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3123-3133
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopment (Cambridge)
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 2014



  • Acinar cell
  • Mouse
  • Nr5a2
  • Organogenesis
  • Pancreas
  • Transcriptional control

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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