Role of transcription factors in the transdifferentiation of pancreatic islet cells

Talitha van der Meulen, Mark O. Huising

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


The α and β cells act in concert to maintain blood glucose. The α cells release glucagon in response to low levels of glucose to stimulate glycogenolysis in the liver. In contrast, β cells release insulin in response to elevated levels of glucose to stimulate peripheral glucose disposal. Despite these opposing roles in glucose homeostasis, α and β cells are derived from a common progenitor and share many proteins important for glucose sensing and hormone secretion. Results from recent work have underlined these similarities between the two cell types by revealing that β-to-α as well as α-to-β transdifferentiation can take place under certain experimental circumstances. These exciting findings highlight unexpected plasticity of adult islets and offer hope of novel therapeutic paths to replenish b cells in diabetes. In this review, we focus on the transcription factor networks that establish and maintain pancreatic endocrine cell identity and how they may be perturbed to facilitate transdifferentiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R103-R117
JournalJournal of Molecular Endocrinology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • ARX
  • Dedifferentiation
  • Diabetes
  • FOXO1
  • NKX2-2
  • PAX4
  • PDX1
  • Transdifferentiation
  • α cell
  • β cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of transcription factors in the transdifferentiation of pancreatic islet cells'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this