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SPDEF, also called PDEF (prostate derived ETS factor) or PSE (prostate specific ETS) is an ETS domain transcription factor which is highly expressed in intestinal goblet cells.
Using a transgenic drug-inducible system, we recently discovered that SPDEF can control both intestinal progenitor proliferation as well as cell fate. When SPDEF is expressed throughout the progenitors of the crypt, proliferation is dramatically reduced, and progenitor cells adopt a goblet cell fate.
Thus, in addition to increased goblet cells, we observed a significant reduction in Paneth, enteroendocrine, and absorptive enterocytes in SPDEF-expressing intestines.
Current projects in the lab seek to elucidate the mechanisms by which SPDEF controls intestinal cell fate, and whether this terminal differentiation factor plays a role in colorectal cancer.
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