An expanding job description for the zinc finger transcriptional repressor Blimp1/Prdm1

Robertson EJ

Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3RE.

The zinc finger transcriptional repressor B-lymphocyte-induced maturation protein 1 (Blimp1), encoded by the Prdm1 gene, originally cloned as negative regulator of β-interferon gene expression and subsequently identified as a master regulator of plasma cell terminal differentiation, governs cell fate decisions in the developing embryo and adult tissues. In the early embryo, Blimp1 is required to specify the primordial germ cell lineage. Loss of function mutant embryos die at mid-gestation due to defective placental morphogenesis. Conditional deletion experiments demonstrate that Blimp1 activities are also essential for development of the pharynx, forelimbs and heart. Blimp1 also regulates the developmental switch responsible for post-natal reprogramming of the intestinal epithelium. Most recently we discovered that Blimp1 identifies a rare population of luminal stem cells essential for mammary gland morphogenesis and organ homeostasis. Via its dynamic patterns of expression, associations with diverse epigenetic partners and widespread recognition of genomic target sites Blimp1 plays an essential role controlling developmental programmes in multiple tissue contexts.