Isx (intestine specific homeobox) is an intestine-specific transcription factor. To elucidate its physiological function, we generated Isx-deficient mice by knocking in the β-galactosidase gene (LacZ) in the Isx locus (Isx LacZ/LacZ mice). LacZ staining of heterozygous (IsxLacZ/+) mice revealed that Isx was expressed abundantly in intestinal epithelial cells from duodenum to proximal colon. Quantitative mRNA expression profiling of duodenum and jejunum showed that β-carotene 15,15′-monooxygenase (EC22.214.171.124 Bcmo1) and the class B type I scavenger receptor, which are involved in vitamin A synthesis and carotenoid uptake, respectively, were drastically increased in IsxLacZ/LacZ mice. Although mild vitamin A deficiency decreased Isx expression in duodenum of wild-type (Isx+/+) mice, severe vitamin A deficiency decreased Isx mRNA expression in both duodenum and jejunum of Isx+/+ mice. On the other hand, vitamin A deficiency increased Bcmo1 expression in both duodenum and jejunum of Isx +/+ mice. However, Bcmo1 expression was not increased in duodenum of IsxLacZ/LacZ mice by mild vitamin A deficiency. These data suggest that Isx participates in the maintenance of vitamin A metabolism by regulating Bcmo1 expression in the intestine.
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