ABSTRACT

Ets homologous factor (EHF) is a member of the epithelial-specific Ets (ESE) family of transcription factors. To investigate its role in development and epithelial homeostasis, we generated a series of novel mouse strains in which the Ets DNA-binding domain of Ehf was deleted in all tissues (Ehf−/−) or specifically in the gut epithelium. Ehf−/− mice were born at the expected Mendelian ratio, but showed reduced body weight gain, and developed a series of pathologies requiring most Ehf−/− mice to reach an ethical endpoint before reaching 1 year of age. These included papillomas in the facial skin, abscesses in the preputial glands (males) or vulvae (females), and corneal ulcers. Ehf−/−mice also displayed increased susceptibility to experimentally induced colitis, which was confirmed in intestinal-specific Ehf knockout mice. Gut-specific Ehf deletion also impaired goblet cell differentiation, induced extensive transcriptional reprogramming in the colonic epithelium and enhanced Apc-initiated adenoma development. The Ets DNA-binding domain of EHF is therefore essential for postnatal homeostasis of the epidermis and colonic epithelium, and its loss promotes colonic tumour development.

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