The tetraspanin Tm4sf3 is localized to the ventral pancreas and regulates fusion of the dorsal and ventral pancreatic buds. Academic Article uri icon


  • During embryogenesis, the pancreas develops from separate dorsal and ventral buds, which fuse to form the mature pancreas. Little is known about the functional differences between these two buds or the relative contribution of cells derived from each region to the pancreas after fusion. To follow the fate of dorsal or ventral bud derived cells in the pancreas after fusion, we produced chimeric Elas-GFP transgenic/wild-type embryos in which either dorsal or ventral pancreatic bud cells expressed GFP. We found that ventral pancreatic cells migrate extensively into the dorsal pancreas after fusion, whereas the converse does not occur. Moreover, we found that annular pancreatic tissue is composed exclusively of ventral pancreas-derived cells. To identify ventral pancreas-specific genes that may play a role in pancreatic bud fusion, we isolated individual dorsal and ventral pancreatic buds, prior to fusion, from NF38/39 Xenopus laevis tadpoles and compared their gene expression profiles (NF refers to the specific stage of Xenopus development). As a result of this screen, we have identified several new ventral pancreas-specific genes, all of which are expressed in the same location within the ventral pancreas at the junction where the two ventral pancreatic buds fuse. Morpholino-mediated knockdown of one of these ventral-specific genes, transmembrane 4 superfamily member 3 (tm4sf3), inhibited dorsal-ventral pancreatic bud fusion, as well as acinar cell differentiation. Conversely, overexpression of tm4sf3 promoted development of annular pancreas. Our results are the first to define molecular and behavioral differences between the dorsal and ventral pancreas, and suggest an unexpected role for the ventral pancreas in pancreatic bud fusion.

publication date

  • June 2009