Members of the TGFbeta family of peptides exert antiproliferative effects and induce apoptosis in epithelial cell populations. In the exocrine pancreas, these peptides not only regulate normal cell growth, but alterations in these pathways have been associated with neoplastic transformation. Therefore, the identification of molecules that regulate exocrine pancreatic cell proliferation and apoptotic cell death in response to TGFbeta peptides is necessary for a better understanding of normal morphogenesis as well as carcinogenesis of the pancreas. In this study, we have characterized the expression and function in exocrine pancreatic epithelial cells of the TGFbeta-inducible early gene (TIEG), a Krüppel-like zinc finger transcription factor encoding gene previously isolated from mesodermally derived osteoblastic cells. We demonstrate that this gene is expressed in both acinar and ductular epithelial cell populations from the exocrine pancreas. In addition, we show that the expression of TIEG is regulated by TGFbeta1 as an early response gene in pancreatic epithelial cell lines. Moreover, overexpression of TIEG in the TGFbeta-sensitive epithelial cell line PANC1 is sufficient to induce apoptosis. Together, these results support a role for TIEG in linking TGFbeta-mediated signaling cascades to the regulation of pancreatic epithelial cell growth.