Generating comprehensive image maps, while preserving spatial three-dimensional (3D) context, is essential in order to locate and assess quantitatively specific cellular features and cell-cell interactions during organ development. Despite recent advances in 3D imaging approaches, our current knowledge of the spatial organization of distinct cell types in the embryonic pancreatic tissue is still largely based on two-dimensional histological sections. Here, we present a light-sheet fluorescence microscopy approach to image the pancreas in three dimensions andmap tissue interactions at key timepoints in the mouse embryo.We demonstrate the utility of the approach by providing volumetric data, 3D distribution of three main cellular components (epithelial, mesenchymal and endothelial cells) within the developing pancreas, and quantification of their relative cellular abundance within the tissue. Interestingly, our 3D images show that endocrine cells are constantly and increasingly in contact with endothelial cells forming small vessels, whereas the interactions with mesenchymal cells decrease over time. These findings suggest distinct cell-cell interaction requirements for early endocrine cell specification and late differentiation. Lastly, we combine our image data in an open-source online repository (referred to as the Pancreas Embryonic Cell Atlas).
- Cell-cell interactions
- Endothelial cells
- Light-sheet fluorescence microscopy
- Mouse embryo