First published February 1, 1987 - More info
The developmental origin of the four phenotypically distinct hormone-producing islet cells (insulin, glucagon, somatostatin, pancreatic polypeptide) is unclear. To investigate the potential for phenotypic differentiation of islet cells, we prepared several clonal cell lines from a radiation-induced rat islet tumor and analyzed them for insulin, glucagon, and somatostatin gene expression by cDNA hybridization, immunocytochemistry, and radioimmunoassay. We found expression of all three genes in the tumor and in the parental cell line and mixed variable phenotypes in the clonal lines derived from the parental line. We also observed the ectopic expression of the angiotensinogen gene in the tumor and the cell lines. The relative levels of hormonal gene expression differed among the cell lines but remained fixed during continuous passage. The three islet hormone mRNAs were larger compared to the pancreas owing to longer poly(A) tracts. These observations indicate that neoplastic islet cells retain the potential to differentiate into hormone-specific cellular phenotypes and may mimic developmental pathways of the pancreatic islets.