Cell differentiation requires remodeling of tissue-specific gene loci and activities of key transcriptional regulators, which are recognized for their dominant control over cellular programs. Using epigenomic methods, we characterized enhancer elements specifically modified in differentiating intestinal epithelial cells and found enrichment of transcription factor-binding motifs corresponding to CDX2, a critical regulator of the intestine. Directed investigation revealed surprising lability in CDX2 occupancy of the genome, with redistribution from hundreds of sites occupied only in proliferating cells to thousands of new sites in differentiated cells. Knockout mice confirmed distinct Cdx2 requirements in dividing and mature adult intestinal cells, including responsibility for the active enhancer configuration associated with maturity. Dynamic CDX2 occupancy corresponds with condition-specific gene expression and, importantly, to differential co-occupancy with other tissue-restricted transcription factors, such as GATA6 and HNF4A. These results reveal dynamic, context-specific functions and mechanisms of a prominent transcriptional regulator within a cell lineage.
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