Pieces of mouse embryonic pancreatic epithelium cultured in an inductive situation in vitro, or when examined at critical times in vivo, show a gradient of zymogen granule accumulation. Cells located internally in explants, or in central acini in vivo, show this overt differentiation first. As the epithelia age, the more peripheral cell population proceeds in a similar differentiation. Observations of autoradiograms of H3-thymidine-labeled tissues indicate that the first cells which cease incorporating the DNA-precursor are in the central regions that differentiate first. In older explants, thymidine incorporation is largely restricted to the periphery of the tissue as zymogen appears in the internal cells. Evidence suggests that cells or nuclei which have replicated DNA move inward before dividing. Some daughter cells apparently return peripherad to divide again, whereas others remain centrally where they undergo differentiation. During at least the first 24 hours of these maturational changes, mesenchyme has a stimulatory effect upon epithelial thymidine-incorporation frequencies. The presence of a post-DNA-synthetic population is seen in the form of a group of nonlabeling central cells that remains intact in the midst of a labeled epithelium for as long as 48 hours in vitro (from 72 to 120 hours). If explants are treated with 5-bromodeoxyuridine for any 24-hour segment of the 0 to 72-hour period, before the non-incorporating population arises, no subsequent overt zymogen formation occurs. If explants are treated continuously from 72 to 120 hours, on the other hand, zymogen still forms in some internal cells. Presumably, this differentiation is limited to the postmitotic population as revealed in the thymidine autoradiograms.

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