Epithelial Differentiation in Pancreatic Development and Neoplasia: New Niches for Nestin and Notch

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Changes in epithelial differentiation represent a characteristic early feature of human pancreatic cancer. Recent work suggests that many of these changes may reflect a pathologic recapitulation of developmental events. Reflecting this principle, metaplastic and neoplastic pancreatic epithelium appear to share many features in common with embryonic pancreatic epithelium, including reactivation of the Notch signaling pathway. In this review, we summarize recent studies involving regulation of epithelial differentiation in both embryonic and adult pancreas and highlight the role of Notch in regulating an exocrine progenitor pool.

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