Acinar cells of the exocrine pancreas are tasked with synthesizing, packaging and secreting vast quantities of pro-digestive enzymes to maintain proper metabolic homeostasis for the organism. Because the synthesis of high levels of hydrolases is potentially dangerous, the pancreas is prone to acute pancreatitis (AP), a disease that targets acinar cells, leading to acinar-ductal metaplasia (ADM), inflammation and fibrosis-events that can transition into the earliest stages of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Despite a wealth of information concerning the broad phenotype associated with pancreatitis, little is understood regarding specific transcriptional regulatory networks that are susceptible to AP and the role these networks play in acinar cell and exocrine pancreas responses. In this study, we examined the importance of the acinar-specific maturation transcription factor MIST1 to AP damage and organ recovery. Analysis of wild-type and Mist1 conditional null mice revealed that Mist1 gene transcription and protein accumulation were dramatically reduced as acinar cells underwent ADM alterations during AP episodes. To test if loss of MIST1 function was primarily responsible for the damaged status of the organ, mice harboring a Cre-inducible Mist1 transgene (iMist1) were utilized to determine if sustained MIST1 activity could alleviate AP damage responses. Unexpectedly, constitutive iMist1 expression during AP led to a dramatic increase in organ damage followed by acinar cell death. We conclude that the transient silencing of Mist1 expression is critical for acinar cells to survive an AP episode, providing cells an opportunity to suppress their secretory function and regenerate damaged cells. The importance of MIST1 to these events suggests that modulating key pancreas transcription networks could ease clinical symptoms in patients diagnosed with pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. © 2015 Karki et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Karki, A., Humphrey, S.E., Steele, R.E., Hess, D.A., Taparowsky, E.J., Konieczny, S.F. Silencing Mist1 gene expression is essential for recovery from acute pancreatitis. PLoS ONE Volume 10, Issue 12, 1 December 2015, Article number e0145724.


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