Inactivation of the Pancreatic and Duodenal Homeobox 1 (PDX1) gene causes pancreatic agenesis, which places PDX1 high atop the regulatory network controlling development of this indispensable organ. However, little is known about the identity of PDX1 transcriptional targets. We simulated pancreatic development by differentiating human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) into early pancreatic progenitors and subjected this cell population to PDX1 chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq). We identified more than 350 genes bound by PDX1, whose expression was upregulated on day 17 of differentiation. This group included known PDX1 targets and many genes not previously linked to pancreatic development. ChIP-seq also revealed PDX1 occupancy at hepatic genes. We hypothesized that simultaneous PDX1-driven activation of pancreatic and repression of hepatic programs underlie early divergence between pancreas and liver. In HepG2 cells and differentiating hESCs, we found that PDX1 binds and suppresses expression of endogenous liver genes. These findings rebrand PDX1 as a context-dependent transcriptional repressor and activator within the same cell type.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.