Transdifferentiation is the name used to describe the conversion of one differentiated cell type to another. During development, the liver and pancreas arise from the same region of the endoderm and cells from the two organs can transdifferentiate in the adult under different experimental procedures. We have produced two in vitro models for the transdifferentiation of pancreatic cells to hepatocytes. The first utilizes a pancreatic exocrine cell line AR42J-B13 and the second comprises cultures of mouse embryonic pancreas. We have analysed the pancreatic hepatocytes and they express a range of liver markers including albumin, transferrin and transthyretin. We also present evidence for (i) the molecular mechanism which regulates the conversion between pancreas and liver and (ii) the cellular basis of the switch in phenotype.

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