The acinar cell of the exocrine pancreas is a highly specialized cell population with the ability to secrete, differentiate, proliferate, and undergo programmed cell death in response to a variety of extracellular signals. Abnormalities in one or more of these processes are characteristic, if not causal, of several common pancreatic diseases. Thus, a better understanding of the mechanisms regulating these phenomena is of paramount importance not only for the comprehension of normal pancreatic physiology but also the pathophysiology of pancreatic diseases. The purpose of this article is to review emerging evidence that underscores the importance of novel membrane-to-nucleus signaling cascades for the regulation of these cellular functions.
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