Danielsson A, Pontén F, Fagerberg L, Hallström BM, Schwenk JM, Uhlén M, Korsgren O, Lindskog C
PLoS ONE 9 (12) e115421 [2014-12-29; online 2014-12-29]
The pancreas is composed of both exocrine glands and intermingled endocrine cells to execute its diverse functions, including enzyme production for digestion of nutrients and hormone secretion for regulation of blood glucose levels. To define the molecular constituents with elevated expression in the human pancreas, we employed a genome-wide RNA sequencing analysis of the human transcriptome to identify genes with elevated expression in the human pancreas. This quantitative transcriptomics data was combined with immunohistochemistry-based protein profiling to allow mapping of the corresponding proteins to different compartments and specific cell types within the pancreas down to the single cell level. Analysis of whole pancreas identified 146 genes with elevated expression levels, of which 47 revealed a particular higher expression as compared to the other analyzed tissue types, thus termed pancreas enriched. Extended analysis of in vitro isolated endocrine islets identified an additional set of 42 genes with elevated expression in these specialized cells. Although only 0.7% of all genes showed an elevated expression level in the pancreas, this fraction of transcripts, in most cases encoding secreted proteins, constituted 68% of the total mRNA in pancreas. This demonstrates the extreme specialization of the pancreas for production of secreted proteins. Among the elevated expression profiles, several previously not described proteins were identified, both in endocrine cells (CFC1, FAM159B, RBPJL and RGS9) and exocrine glandular cells (AQP12A, DPEP1, GATM and ERP27). In summary, we provide a global analysis of the pancreas transcriptome and proteome with a comprehensive list of genes and proteins with elevated expression in pancreas. This list represents an important starting point for further studies of the molecular repertoire of pancreatic cells and their relation to disease states or treatment effects.