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Combinatorial transcription factor profiles predict mature and functional human islet α and β cells

By Shristi Shrestha, Diane C. Saunders, John T. Walker, Joan Camunas-Soler, Xiao-Qing Dai, Rachana Haliyur, Radhika Aramandla, Greg Poffenberger, Nripesh Prasad, Rita Bottino, Roland Stein, Jean-Philippe Cartailler, Stephen C. J. Parker, Patrick E MacDonald, Shawn E. Levy, Alvin C. Powers, Marcela Brissova

Posted 24 Feb 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.02.23.432522

Islet-enriched transcription factors (TFs) exert broad control over cellular processes in pancreatic and {beta} cells and changes in their expression are associated with developmental state and diabetes. However, the implications of heterogeneity in TF expression across islet cell populations are not well understood. To define this TF heterogeneity and its consequences for cellular function, we profiled >40,000 cells from normal human islets by scRNA-seq and stratified and {beta} cells based on combinatorial TF expression. Subpopulations of islet cells co-expressing ARX/MAFB ( cells) and MAFA/MAFB ({beta} cells) exhibited greater expression of key genes related to glucose sensing and hormone secretion relative to subpopulations expressing only one or neither TF. Moreover, all subpopulations were identified in native pancreatic tissue from multiple donors. By Patch-seq, MAFA/MAFB co-expressing {beta} cells showed enhanced electrophysiological activity. Thus, these results indicate combinatorial TF expression in islet and {beta} cells predicts highly functional, mature subpopulations.

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