Loss of RE-1 silencing transcription factor accelerates exocrine damage from pancreatic injury

Julie K. Bray, Ola A. Elgamal, Jinmai Jiang, Lais S. Wright, Dhruvitkumar S. Sutaria, Mohamed Badawi, Madeline G. Borcyk, Xiuli Liu, Kristianna M. Fredenburg, Martha L. Campbell-Thompson, Thomas D. Schmittgen

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6 Scopus citations


Regulation of pancreas plasticity is critical for preventing injury and promoting regeneration upon tissue damage. The intricate process of pancreatic differentiation is governed by an orchestrated network of positive and negative transcription factors for appropriate gene expression. While the transcriptional repressor REST is well characterized as a silencer of neuronal genes in non-neuronal cells, the role of REST in regulating exocrine pancreas cell identity remains largely unexplored. Rest expression is increased upon injury in the mouse pancreas, such as induced acute and chronic pancreatitis and ductal adenocarcinoma. At the cellular level, Rest expression is lower in mature acinar cells compared with pancreas progenitor and ductal cells. To investigate the role of REST activity in pancreatic transdifferentiation and homeostasis, we developed a novel mouse model (Cre/RESTfl/fl) with conditional knockout (KO) of Rest expression within pancreas cells. The high Cre-mediated excision efficiency of Rest exon two KO caused decreased Rest expression and activity within the pancreas. Short-term organoid cultures of pancreatic acini to undergo acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM) showed that loss of REST impedes induced ADM, while overexpression of REST increases ADM. Interestingly, REST ablation accelerated acute pancreatitis in mice treated with the cholecystokinin analog caerulein, as indicated by cellular morphology, elevated serum amylase levels and pancreatic edema. Furthermore, Cre/RESTfl/fl mice were more sensitive to acute pancreatitis injury and displayed augmented tissue damage and cellular lesions. These results suggest REST has a novel protective role against pancreatic tissue damage by acting as a regulator of exocrine cell identity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number138
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2020


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