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Development of colonic and pancreatic endocrine tumours in mice expressing a glucagon-SV40 T antigen transgene


We report the histological, immunohistochemical and ultrastructural changes in mice containing a chimeric glucagon-simian virus 40 T antigen (SV40Tag) gene. Transgene expression was detected in endocrine cells of pancreas, small and large intestine. Hyperplasia of glucagon-containing cells developed in pancreas and large bowel by gestational day 19. In large bowel, hyperplastic cells increased in number postnatally and invasive carcinomas were identified at 4 weeks; several animals had lymph node metastases. In contrast, no pathology was detected in the small bowel in any of the transgenic mice. Colonic tumours expressed SV40Tag, proglucagon-derived peptides and peptide YY (PYY); scattered cells contained cholecystokinin or glycoprotein hormone α-subunit. Somatostatin or serotonin was also detected in some tumours. By electron microscopy, the colonic tumours retained features of endocrine differentiation, but secretory granules were smaller than those of non-tumorous intestinal glucagon-producing L cells. In postnatal pancreas, atypical cells containing SV40Tag and glucagon were initially clustered at the periphery of islets; this atypical hyperplasia progressed to neoplasia by 11–12 weeks. Some neoplastic pancreatic cells contained glucagon, PYY or vasoactive intestinal peptide immunopositivity, but most were negative for all peptides; they contained immunoreactivity for tyrosine hydroxylase and by electron microscopy, pancreatic tumour cells had neuronal features. Pancreatic polypeptide was not detected in the non-tumorous islets of transgenic animals. This line of transgenic mice provides a model for the analysis of endocrine tumour progression in the gut and pancreas.

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Correspondence to S. L. Asa.

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Asa, S.L., Lee, Y.C. & Drucker, D.J. Development of colonic and pancreatic endocrine tumours in mice expressing a glucagon-SV40 T antigen transgene. Vichows Archiv A Pathol Anat 427, 595–606 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00202891

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Key words

  • Transgenic mice
  • Glucagon
  • Colon carcinoma
  • Pancreatic endocrine carcinoma
  • Morphology