Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a key regulator of metabolism under conditions of stress such as starvation, obesity, and hypothermia. Rapid induction of FGF21 is also observed in experimental models of pancreatitis, and FGF21 reduces tissue damage observed in these models, suggesting a nonmetabolic function. Pancreatitis is a debilitating disease with significant morbidity that greatly increases the risk of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. The goals of this study were to examine the regulation and function of FGF21 in acinar cell injury, specifically in a mouse model of pancreatic injury (Mist1(-/-)). Mist1(-/-) mice exhibit acinar cell disorganization, decreased acinar cell communication and exocytosis, and increased sensitivity to cerulein-induced pancreatitis (CIP). Examination of Fgf21 expression in Mist1(-/-) mice by qRT-PCR, Northern blot, and Western blot analyses showed a marked decrease in pancreatic Fgf21 expression before and after induction of CIP compared with C57Bl/6 mice. To determine whether the loss of FGF21 accounted for the Mist1(-/-) phenotypes, we generated Mist1(-/-) mice overexpressing human FGF21 from the ApoE promoter (Mist1(-/-)ApoE-FGF21). Reexpression of FGF21 partially mitigated pancreatic damage in Mist1(-/-) tissue based on reduced intrapancreatic enzyme activation, reduced expression of genes involved in fibrosis, and restored cell-cell junctions. Interestingly, alteration of Fgf21 expression in Mist1(-/-) tissue was not simply due to a loss of direct transcriptional regulation by MIST1. Chromatin immunopreciptation indicated that the loss of Fgf21 in the Mist1(-/-) pancreas is due, in part, to epigenetic silencing. Thus, our studies identify a new role for FGF21 in reducing acinar cell injury and uncover a novel mechanism for regulating Fgf21 gene expression.
Gene expression is affected by modifications to histone core proteins within chromatin. Changes in these modifications, or epigenetic reprogramming, can dictate cell fate and promote susceptibility to disease. The goal of this study was to determine the extent of epigenetic reprogramming in response to chronic stress that occurs following ablation of MIST1 (Mist1(-/-) ), which is repressed in pancreatic disease. Chromatin immunoprecipitation for trimethylation of lysine residue 4 on histone 3 (H3K4Me3) in purified acinar cells from wild type and Mist1(-/-) mice was followed by Next Generation sequencing (ChIP-seq) or ChIP-qPCR. H3K4Me3-enriched genes were assessed for expression by qRT-PCR in pancreatic tissue before and after induction of cerulein-induced pancreatitis. While most of H3K4Me3-enrichment is restricted to transcriptional start sites, >25% of enrichment sites are found within, downstream or between annotated genes. Less than 10% of these sites were altered in Mist1(-/-) acini, with most changes in H3K4Me3 enrichment not reflecting altered gene expression. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis of genes differentially-enriched for H3K4Me3 revealed an association with pancreatitis and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma in Mist1(-/-) tissue. Most of these genes were not differentially expressed but several were readily induced by acute experimental pancreatitis, with significantly increased expression in Mist1(-/-) tissue relative to wild type mice. We suggest that the chronic cell stress observed in the absence of MIST1 results in epigenetic reprogramming of genes involved in promoting pancreatitis to a poised state, thereby increasing the sensitivity to events that promote disease.
Alcohol abuse is a leading cause of pancreatitis in humans. However, rodent models suggest that alcohol only sensitizes the pancreas to subsequent insult, indicating that additional factors play a role in alcohol-induced pancreatic injury. The goal of this study was to determine if an absence of MIST1, a transcription factor required for complete differentiation of pancreatic acinar cells in mice, increased the sensitivity to alcohol.
MIST1 is a transcription factor expressed in pancreatic acinar cells and other serous exocrine cells. Mice harboring a targeted deletion of the Mist1 gene (Mist1(-/-)) exhibit alterations in acinar regulated exocytosis and aberrant Ca(2+) signaling that are normally controlled by acinar cell Ca(2+)-ATPases. Previous studies indicated that total sarcoendoplasmic reticulum Ca(2+)-ATPases (SERCA) and plasma membrane Ca(2+)-ATPases (PMCA) remained unaffected in Mist1(-/-) acinar cultures. Therefore, we have assessed the expression of Atp2c2, the gene that encodes the secretory pathway Ca(2+)-ATPase 2 (SPCA2). We revealed a dramatic decrease in pancreatic expression of Atp2a2 mRNA and SPCA2 protein in Mist1(-/-) mice. Surprisingly, this analysis indicated that the acinar-specific Atp2c2 mRNA is a novel transcript, consisting of only the 3 end of the gene and the protein and localizes to the endoplasmic reticulum. Expression of SPCA2 was also lost in Mist1(-/-) secretory cells of the salivary glands and seminal vesicles, suggesting that Atp2c2 transcription is regulated by MIST1. Indeed, inducible MIST1 expression in Mist1(-/-) pancreatic acinar cells restored normal Atp2c2 expression, supporting a role for MIST1 in regulating the Atp2c2 gene. Based on these results, we have identified a new Atp2c2 transcript, the loss of which may be linked to the Mist1(-/-) phenotype.
Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) acts as a hormonal regulator during fasting and is involved in lipid metabolism. Fgf21 gene expression is regulated by peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-dependent pathways, which are enhanced during pancreatitis. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate FGF21s role in pancreatic injury.
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has a 5 year survival rate post-diagnosis of < 5%. Individuals with chronic pancreatitis (CP) are 20-fold more likely to develop PDAC, making it a significant risk factor for PDAC. While the relationship for the increased susceptibility to PDAC is unknown, loss of the acinar cell phenotype is common to both pathologies. Pancreatic acinar cells can dedifferentiate or trans-differentiate into a number of cell types including duct cells, ? cells, hepatocytes and adipocytes. Knowledge of the molecular pathways that regulate this plasticity should provide insight into PDAC and CP. MIST1 (encoded by Bhlha15 in mice) is a transcription factor required for complete acinar cell maturation. The goal of this study was to examine the plasticity of acinar cells that do not express MIST1 (Mist1(-/-) ). The fate of acinar cells from C57Bl6 or congenic Mist1(-/-) mice expressing an acinar specific, tamoxifen-inducible Cre recombinase mated to Rosa26 reporter LacZ mice (Mist1(CreERT/-) R26r) was determined following culture in a three-dimensional collagen matrix. Mist1(CreERT/-) R26r acini showed increased acinar dedifferentiation, formation of ductal cysts and transient increases in PDX1 expression compared to wild-type acinar cells. Other progenitor cell markers, including Foxa1, Sox9, Sca1 and Hes1, were elevated only in Mist1(-/-) cultures. Analysis of protein kinase C (PKC) isoforms by western blot and immunofluorescence identified increased PKC? accumulation and nuclear localization of PKC? that correlated with increased duct formation. Treatment with rottlerin, a PKC?-specific inhibitor, but not the PKC?-specific antagonist ?V1-2, reduced acinar dedifferentiation, progenitor gene expression and ductal cyst formation. Immunocytochemistry on CP or PDAC tissue samples showed reduced MIST1 expression combined with increased nuclear PKC? accumulation. These results suggest that the loss of MIST1 is a common event during PDAC and CP and events that affect MIST1 function and expression may increase susceptibility to these pathologies.
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