The Department of Biomedicine
BBB seminar

BBB seminar: Simona Chera

Mapping cell identity shifts in the adult pancreatic islet

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Simona Chera
Center for Diabetes Research, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen

Diabetes mellitus represents a group of energy metabolism diseases defined by chronically increased blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia) triggered by the inability of the body to produce and/or use sufficient insulin. Insulin is a hormone synthetized by the β-cells, which reside in the pancreatic islets alongside several other mono-hormonal endocrine cell types (islet non-β-cells). The contribution of these neighboring cells’ identity maintenance errors or altered proportions to diabetes development is unknown. I will discuss how we bridged this knowledge gap by developing novel models of monogenic diabetes. Our analyses identified errors in islet non-β-cells identity maintenance, characterizing the contexts of overt diabetes. Cell identity changes, such as dedifferentiation or transdifferentiation, can affect drastically the function of an organ, and therefore mastering the mechanisms governing identity maintenance would grant control over the outcome of both of these processes, which can also provide a favorable milieu for alternative regenerative / treatment future strategies.

Chairperson: Nils Halberg, Department of Biomedicine