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GATA4 Controls Epithelial Morphogenesis in the Developing Stomach to Promote Establishment of Glandular Columnar Epithelium. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol 2021;12(4):1391-1413



Pubmed ID


Pubmed Central ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85115766757   1 Citation


BACKGROUND & AIMS: The transcription factor GATA4 is broadly expressed in nascent foregut endoderm. As development progresses, GATA4 is lost in the domain giving rise to the stratified squamous epithelium of the esophagus and forestomach (FS), while it is maintained in the domain giving rise to the simple columnar epithelium of the hindstomach (HS). Differential GATA4 expression within these domains coincides with the onset of distinct tissue morphogenetic events, suggesting a role for GATA4 in diversifying foregut endoderm into discrete esophageal/FS and HS epithelial tissues. The goal of this study was to determine how GATA4 regulates differential morphogenesis of the mouse gastric epithelium.

METHODS: We used a Gata4 conditional knockout mouse line to eliminate GATA4 in the developing HS and a Gata4 conditional knock-in mouse line to express GATA4 in the developing FS.

RESULTS: We found that GATA4-deficient HS epithelium adopted a FS-like fate, and conversely, that GATA4-expressing FS epithelium adopted a HS-like fate. Underlying structural changes in these epithelia were broad changes in gene expression networks attributable to GATA4 directly activating or repressing expression of HS or FS defining transcripts. Our study implicates GATA4 as having a primary role in suppressing an esophageal/FS transcription factor network during HS development to promote columnar epithelium. Moreover, GATA4-dependent phenotypes in developmental mutants reflected changes in gene expression associated with Barrett's esophagus.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that GATA4 is necessary and sufficient to activate the development of simple columnar epithelium, rather than stratified squamous epithelium, in the embryonic stomach. Moreover, similarities between mutants and Barrett's esophagus suggest that developmental biology can provide insight into human disease mechanisms.

Author List

DeLaForest A, Kohlnhofer BM, Franklin OD, Stavniichuk R, Thompson CA, Pulakanti K, Rao S, Battle MA


Michele A. Battle PhD Associate Professor in the Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Anatomy department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Sridhar Rao MD, PhD Associate Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Binding Sites
GATA4 Transcription Factor
GATA6 Transcription Factor
Gastric Mucosa
Gene Expression Profiling
Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
Mice, Knockout
Protein Binding