Cdx1, Cdx2 and Cdx4 encode homeodomain transcription factors that are involved in vertebral anterior-posterior (AP) patterning. Cdx1 and Cdx2 are also expressed in the intestinal epithelium during development, suggesting a role in this tissue. Intestinal defects have not been reported in Cdx1 null mutants, while Cdx2 null mutants die at embryonic day 3.5 (E3.5), thus precluding assessment of the null phenotype at later stages. To circumvent this latter shortcoming, we have used a conditional Cre-lox strategy to inactivate Cdx2 in the intestinal epithelium. Using this approach, we found that ablation of Cdx2 at E13.5 led to a transformation of the small intestine to a pyloric stomach-like identity, although the molecular nature of the underlying mesenchyme remained unchanged. Further analysis of Cdx1-Cdx2 double mutants suggests that Cdx1 does not play a critical role in the development of the small intestine, at least after E13.5.
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