Reprogramming human gallbladder cells into insulin-producing β-like cells

Feorillo Galivo, Eric Benedetti, Yuhan Wang, Carl Pelz, Jonathan Schug, Klaus H. Kaestner, Markus Grompe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The gallbladder and cystic duct (GBCs) are parts of the extrahepatic biliary tree and share a common developmental origin with the ventral pancreas. Here, we report on the very first genetic reprogramming of patient-derived human GBCs to β-like cells for potential autologous cell replacement therapy for type 1 diabetes. We developed a robust method for largescale expansion of human GBCs ex vivo. GBCs were reprogrammed into insulin-producing pancreatic β-like cells by a combined adenoviral-mediated expression of hallmark pancreatic endocrine transcription factors PDX1, MAFA, NEUROG3, and PAX6 and differentiation culture in vitro. The reprogrammed GBCs (rGBCs) strongly induced the production of insulin and pancreatic endocrine genes and these responded to glucose stimulation in vitro. rGBCs also expressed an islet-specific surface marker, which was used to enrich for the most highly reprogrammed cells. More importantly, global mRNA and microRNA expression profiles and protein immunostaining indicated that rGBCs adopted an overall β-like state and these rGBCs engrafted in immunodeficient mice. Furthermore, comparative global expression analyses identified putative regulators of human biliary to β cell fate conversion. In summary, we have developed, for the first time, a reliable and robust genetic reprogramming and culture expansion of primary human GBCs-derived from multiple unrelated donors- into pancreatic β-like cells ex vivo, thus showing that human gallbladder is a potentially rich source of reprogrammable cells for autologous cell therapy in diabetes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0181812
JournalPloS one
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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