The TLE genes are the human homologues of Drosophila groucho, a member of the Notch signaling pathway. This pathway controls a number of different cell-fate choices in invertebrates and vertebrates. We are interested in investigating the functions of the TLE gene family during epithelial determination and carcinogenesis. We show that expression of individual TLE genes correlates with immature epithelial cells that are progressing toward their terminally differentiated state, suggesting a role during epithelial differentiation. In both normal tissues and conditions resulting from incorrect or incomplete maturation events, such as metaplastic and neoplastic transformations, TLE expression is elevated and coincides with Notch expression, implicating these molecules in the maintenance of the undifferentiated state in epithelial cells. We also show that TLE1 and TLE2 are organized in a tandem array at chromosomal location 19p13.3, while TLE3 maps to 15q22.
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