Tissue surface tensions guide in vitro self-assembly of rodent pancreatic islet cells

Dongxuan Jia, Daniel Dajusta, Ramsey A. Foty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


The organization of endocrine cells in pancreatic islets is established through a series of morphogenetic events involving cell sorting, migration, and re-aggregation processes for which intercellular adhesion is thought to play a central role. In animals, these morphogenetic events result in an islet topology in which insulin-secreting cells form the core, while glucagon, somatostatin, and pancreatic polypeptide-secreting cells segregate to the periphery. Isolated pancreatic islet cells self-assemble in vitro into pseudoislets with the same cell type organization as native islets. It is widely held that differential adhesion between cells of the pancreatic islets generates this specific topology. However, this differential adhesion has never been rigorously quantified. In this manuscript, we use tissue surface tensiometry to measure the cohesivity of spherical aggregates from three immortalized mouse pancreatic islet cell lines. We show that, as predicted by the differential adhesion hypothesis, aggregates of the internally segregating INS-1 and MIN6 beta-cell lines are substantially more cohesive than those of the externally segregating α-TC line. Furthermore, we show that forced overexpression of P-cadherin by α-TC cells significantly perturbs the sorting process. Collectively, the data indicate that differential adhesion can drive the in vitro organization of immortalized rodent pancreatic islet cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2039-2049
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental Biology


  • Cell sorting
  • Differential adhesion
  • Pancreatic islets
  • Tissue surface tensiometry


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