SOX4 cooperates with neurogenin 3 to regulate endocrine pancreas formation in mouse models.
Xu EE., Krentz NAJ., Tan S., Chow SZ., Tang M., Nian C., Lynn FC.
AIMS/HYPOTHESIS: The sex-determining region Y (SRY)-related high mobility group (HMG) box (SOX) family of transcription factors is essential for normal organismal development. Despite the longstanding knowledge that many SOX family members are expressed during pancreas development, a role for many of these factors in the establishment of insulin-producing beta cell fate remains to be determined. The aim of this study is to elucidate the role of SOX4 during beta cell development. METHODS: We used pancreas and endocrine progenitor mouse knockouts of Sox4 to uncover the roles of SOX4 during pancreas development. Lineage tracing and in vitro models were used to determine how SOX4 regulates beta cell formation and understand the fate of Sox4-null endocrine lineage cells. RESULTS: This study demonstrates a progenitor cell-autonomous role for SOX4 in regulating the genesis of beta cells and shows that it is required at multiple stages of the process. SOX4 deletion in the multipotent pancreatic progenitors resulted in impaired endocrine progenitor cell differentiation. Deletion of SOX4 later in the Neurog3-expressing cells also caused reductions in beta cells. Lineage studies showed loss of Sox4 in endocrine progenitors resulted in a block in terminal islet cell differentiation that was attributed to reduction in the production of key beta cell specification factors. CONCLUSIONS/INTERPRETATION: These results demonstrate that SOX4 is essential for normal endocrine pancreas development both concomitant with, and downstream of, the endocrine fate decision. In conclusion, these studies position Sox4 temporally in the endocrine differentiation programme and provide a new target for improving in vitro differentiation of glucose-responsive pancreatic beta cells.