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Gfi1 is a zinc-finger transcriptional repressor that is thought to function downstream of Atoh1 in the intestine. Gfi1 regulates intestinal secretory cell differentiation, likely at the decision point between enteroendocrine and Paneth/goblet cells.
We discovered that Gfi1 mutant intestinal progenitors undergo a fate switch, wherein cells fated to become goblet and Paneth cells instead become enteroendocrine cells. Thus, Gfi1 mutant mice produce too many enteroendocrine cells and too few goblet and Paneth cells.
Current projects in the lab seek to identify targets of Gfi1 transcriptional regulation in the intestine, and to define the role of Gfi1 in disease pathogenesis.
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Small intestines from Gfi1 mutant mice were sectioned and goblet cell mucins stained with alcian blue. The number of goblet cells in the villus epithelium was quantified and is shown in the graphs below as a percentage of the total epithelial cells. For quantitation, five segments from the proximal duodenum to the terminal ileum were analyzed. Gfi1 mutant mice are represented by black bars, and control littermate mice by the white bars.
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