Multipotency and self-renewal are collectively referred to as 'Stemness'. One focus of the Magness Lab is to understand the genes and pathways that control stemness. Sry-Box (SOX) transcription factors have been demonstrated to influence stemness in many tissue types. Sox9 is one Sox-family member that is expressed at different levels in the stem/progenitor cell zone of the small intestine and colon.

Using a Sox9EGFP mouse we have demonstrated that distinct levels of Sox9 differentially mark multipotent epithelial stem cells, their progenitors, and post-mitotic enteroendocrine and Paneth cells. We are interested in understanding what Sox9 is doing in each of these cell types and how Sox9 is intrinsically or extrinsically controlling stemness.

We have developed novel mouse models that enable detailed genetic analysis of Sox-factors in a physiologic context

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The intestinal epithelium is one of the most proliferative tissues. The entire lining of the gut is replaced about every 7 days. This rapid renewal process is driven by a pool of tissue-specific stem cells located in the base of the crypts.