PerspectiveCell Biology

Marching out of the crypt

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Science  16 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6454, pp. 642-643
DOI: 10.1126/science.aay5861

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Summary

The surface of the intestines comprises epithelial cells arranged in villi, at the base of which are the crypts where intestinal stem cells that produce the epithelial cells are located. These crypts have become the cell biologist's favorite model system for understanding epithelial stem cell biology and lineage differentiation. In stark contrast, the biophysical underpinnings of crypt-villus biology have received considerably less attention. The simple model that has been accepted for many years is one of epithelial cells passively moving along a conveyor from the crypt to the top of the villus, pushed forward by stem cells continuously producing daughter cells at the base of the crypt. On page 705 of this issue, Krndija et al. (1) reveal that this model is incorrect and that instead, mouse intestinal epithelial cells actively crawl up the villus after they exit the crypt.

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