Nelson S. Yee
Genetic analysis of pancreatic development has provided new insights into the mechanisms underlying the formation of exocrine pancreatic neoplasia. Zebrafish sweetbread (swd mutants develop hypoplastic acini and dysmorphic ducts in the exocrine pancreas, with impeded progression of cell division cycle and of epithelial growth. Positional cloning and allelic complementation have revealed that the swd mutations affect the transient receptor potential melastatin-subfamily member 7 (trpm7 gene, which encodes a divalent cation-permeable channel with kinase activity. Supplementary Mg2+ partially rescued the exocrine pancreatic defects of the trpm7 mutants by improving cell-cycle progression and growth and repressing the suppressor of cytokine signaling 3a (socs3a gene. The role of Socs3a in Trpm7-mediated signaling is supported by the findings that socs3a mRNA level is elevated in the trpm7 mutants, and antisense inhibition of socs3a expression improved their exocrine pancreatic growth. TRPM7 is generally overexpressed in human pancreatic adenocarcinoma. TRPM7-deficient cells are impaired in proliferation and arrested in the G0-G1 phases of the cell division cycle. Supplementary Mg2+ rescued the proliferative defect of the TRPM7-deficient cells. Results of this study indicate that Trpm7 regulates exocrine pancreatic development via the Mg2+-sensitive Socs3a pathway, and suggest that aberrant TRPM7-mediated signaling contributes to pancreatic carcinogenesis.