UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

UMMS Affiliation

Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine; Program in Molecular Medicine; Program in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology

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Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Endocrinology | Gastroenterology | Genetics and Genomics | Hepatology


BACKGROUND and AIMS: Transient expression of Neurog3 commits intestinal secretory progenitors to become enteroendocrine-biased progenitors and hence drive enteroendocrine differentiation. Loss of Neurog3 in mouse resulted in the depletion of intestinal enteroendocrine cells (EECs) and an increase in goblet cells. Earlier studies in developing mouse pancreas showed Neurog3 gene dosage in endocrine and exocrine cell fate allocation. We aimed to determine whether Neurog3 gene dosage controls fate choice of enteroendocrine progenitors.

METHODS: We acquired mutant Neurog3 reporter mice carrying 2, 1, or null Neurog3 alleles to study Neurog3 gene dosage effect by lineage tracing. Cell types arising from Neurog3+ progenitors were determined by immunohistochemistry using antibodies against intestinal lineage-specific markers. RNA sequencing of sorted Neurog3(+/+), Neurog3(+/-), or bulk intestinal cells were performed and differentially expressed genes were analyzed.

RESULTS: We identified 2731 genes enriched in sorted Neurog3(+/+)-derived cells in the Neurog3(+/+EYFP) mouse intestine when compared with bulk duodenum epithelial cells. In the intestine of Neurog3(+/-EGFP) heterozygous mouse, we observed a 63% decrease in EEC numbers. Many Neurog3-derived cells stained for goblet marker Muc2. RNA sequencing of sorted Neurog3(+/-) cells uncovered enriched expression of genes characteristic for both goblet and enteroendocrine cells, indicating the mixed lineages arose from Neurog3+ progenitors. Consistent with this hypothesis, deletion of both Neurog3 alleles resulted in the total absence of EECs. All Neurog3(+)-derived cells stained for Muc2.

CONCLUSIONS: We identified that the fate of Neurog3(+) enteroendocrine progenitors is dependent on Neurog3 gene dosage. High Neurog3 gene dosage enforces the commitment of secretory progenitors to an EE lineage, while constraining their goblet cell lineage potential. Transcriptome profiling data was deposited to Gene Ontology omnibus, accession number: GSE149203.


Enteroendocrine progenitors, Neurog3 Gene dosage, goblet cell differentiation, UMCCTS funding

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© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. on behalf of the AGA Institute. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI of Published Version



Li HJ, Ray SK, Kucukural A, Gradwohl G, Leiter AB. Reduced Neurog3 Gene Dosage Shifts Enteroendocrine Progenitor Towards Goblet Cell Lineage in the Mouse Intestine. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Aug 18:S2352-345X(20)30130-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jcmgh.2020.08.006. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32822913. Link to article on publisher's site

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Journal/Book/Conference Title

Cellular and molecular gastroenterology and hepatology

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.