Identification and implication of tissue-enriched ligands in epithelial–endothelial crosstalk during pancreas development

Manon Moulis, Steve Vincent Maurice Runser, Laura Glorieux, Nicolas Dauguet, Christophe Vanderaa, Laurent Gatto, Donatienne Tyteca, Patrick Henriet, Francesca M. Spagnoli, Dagmar Iber, Christophe E. Pierreux*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Development of the pancreas is driven by an intrinsic program coordinated with signals from other cell types in the epithelial environment. These intercellular communications have been so far challenging to study because of the low concentration, localized production and diversity of the signals released. Here, we combined scRNAseq data with a computational interactomic approach to identify signals involved in the reciprocal interactions between the various cell types of the developing pancreas. This in silico approach yielded 40,607 potential ligand-target interactions between the different main pancreatic cell types. Among this vast network of interactions, we focused on three ligands potentially involved in communications between epithelial and endothelial cells. BMP7 and WNT7B, expressed by pancreatic epithelial cells and predicted to target endothelial cells, and SEMA6D, involved in the reverse interaction. In situ hybridization confirmed the localized expression of Bmp7 in the pancreatic epithelial tip cells and of Wnt7b in the trunk cells. On the contrary, Sema6d was enriched in endothelial cells. Functional experiments on ex vivo cultured pancreatic explants indicated that tip cell-produced BMP7 limited development of endothelial cells. This work identified ligands with a restricted tissular and cellular distribution and highlighted the role of BMP7 in the intercellular communications contributing to vessel development and organization during pancreas organogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12498
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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