Gene expression profile analysis of mouse colon embryonic development.


During late embryogenesis, the mouse colon develops from a pseudostratified, undifferentiated endoderm to a single-layered columnar epithelium with accompanying mesenchymal maturation. To identify regulatory genetic programs underlying these morphological changes, we profiled gene expression of the developing mouse colon by microarray from embryonic day (E)13.5 to E18.5. Unbiased cluster analysis of 13,484 cDNA elements revealed two distinct groups of genes whose expression changes reflect the dynamic morphological events of the epithelium and mesenchyme during this period. Additional analyses revealed two subsets of genes whose expression is either upregulated or downregulated over the same developmental period. Of those genes whose expression increases from E13.5 to E18.5 (n = 158), known functions include acquisition and/or maintenance of colonic differentiation. Genes whose transcription is downregulated over this period (n = 49) have demonstrated roles in nuclear organization, transcriptional regulation, and cell proliferation. These results provide the basis for a molecular portrait of colonic development during late embryogenesis and should be a valuable resource for investigators interested in colonic development and neoplasia, as well as comparative organogenesis.