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We have reported that a lack of RUNX3 function is causally associated with gastric carcinogenesis. We have also presented evidence that loss of Runx3 may be related to the genesis of intestinal metaplasia because expression of RUNX3 is reduced in some intestinal metaplasias, and some Runx3−/–p53−/– gastric epithelial cells differentiate into intestinal type cells in vivo. Recently several reports have indicated that blood cells play important roles in the gastric carcinogenesis. In the present study, we therefore examined whether Runx3−/–p53−/– gastric epithelial cells differentiate autonomously into intestinal type cells, or whether the presence of other cells is necessary for the differentiation in vitro. When Runx3−/–p53−/– gastric epithelial cells were cultured with collagen gels, they did not exhibit any morphogenesis and differentiated poorly. When cultured with fetal mouse gastric mesenchymes, the cells formed glandular structures and differentiated into surface mucous cells, but differentiation of intestinal type cells was never observed. When cultured with Matrigel, the cells formed glandular structures, and some cells differentiated into intestinal type cells in vitro. Reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction analysis showed that the cells expressed stomach-specific genes, and their levels decreased gradually during the culture. The cells expressed some intestine-specific genes weakly at the start of culture, and their levels were increased with time in culture. We therefore conclude that Runx3−/–p53−/– gastric epithelial cells differentiate into intestinal type cells in combination with Matrigel in the absence of other cell types. Extracellular matrix, not blood cells, may play a role in the genesis of intestinal metaplasia. (Cancer Sci 2008; 99: 671–676)