Cayla Thompson

Cayla_ThompsonGraduate Student
Medical College of Wisconsin
Department of Cell Biology, Neurobiology & Anatomy
8701 Watertown Plank Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226-3548

(414) 955-4136
(414) 955-6517

BS, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, 2010

Faculty Advisor: Michele Battle, PhD

Research Area: Understanding a role for the GATA4 transcription factor in regionalization of the intestinal epithelium

Although it is well known that the small intestine consists of three functional regions, it is not understood how these regions are defined at the molecular level. Our evidence supports a model whereby GATA4 acts as a dominant regulating factor for jejunal identity along the intestinal epithelium. GATA4 is expressed in the duodenum and jejunum of the small intestine, but is absent from the distal ileum. Using Villin-Cre to conditionally knock-out GATA4 from the intestinal epithelium, the jejunum loses expression of jejunal markers and gains expression of ileal markers. Conversely, when GATA4 is knocked into the ileum, the ileal character is lost while the jejunal character is gained. We have also shown that GATA4 binds directly to several of these genes in order to regulate expression (either activation or repression). Therefore, GATA4 is not only essential, but also sufficient to drive jejunal character in the intestinal epithelium.