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Transcription factor Ptf1a in development, diseases and reprogramming

Jin, Kangxin, Xiang, Mengqing
Cellular and molecular life sciences 2019 v.76 no.5 pp. 921-940
acinar cells, cerebellum, fibroblasts, genes, genetic disorders, humans, loss-of-function mutation, mice, neural stem cells, neurons, pancreas, regulatory sequences, retina, spinal cord, transcription factors
The transcription factor Ptf1a is a crucial helix–loop–helix (bHLH) protein selectively expressed in the pancreas, retina, spinal cord, brain, and enteric nervous system. Ptf1a is preferably assembled into a transcription trimeric complex PTF1 with an E protein and Rbpj (or Rbpjl). In pancreatic development, Ptf1a is indispensable in controlling the expansion of multipotent progenitor cells as well as the specification and maintenance of the acinar cells. In neural tissues, Ptf1a is transiently expressed in the post-mitotic cells and specifies the inhibitory neuronal cell fates, mostly mediated by downstream genes such as Tfap2a/b and Prdm13. Mutations in the coding and non-coding regulatory sequences resulting in Ptf1a gain- or loss-of-function are associated with genetic diseases such as pancreatic and cerebellar agenesis in the rodent and human. Surprisingly, Ptf1a alone is sufficient to reprogram mouse or human fibroblasts into tripotential neural stem cells. Its pleiotropic functions in many biological processes remain to be deciphered in the future.