The identification of cell surface markers specific to pancreatic beta cells is important for both the study of islet biology and for investigating the pathophysiology of diseases in which this cell type is lost or damaged. Following analysis of publicly available RNAseq data, we identified specific integrin subunits, integrin αv and integrin β5, that were expressed in beta cells. This finding was further elaborated using immunofluorescence analysis of histological sections derived from donor human pancreas. Despite the broad expression of specific integrin subunits, we found that expression of integrin αvβ5 heterodimers was restricted to beta cells and that this complex persisted in islet remnants of some type 1 diabetic individuals from which insulin expression had been lost. This study identifies αvβ5 heterodimers as a novel cell surface marker of human pancreatic beta cells, a finding that will aid in the identification and characterisation of this important cell type.
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