Interconversion Between Intestinal Stem Cell Populations in Distinct Niches

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  10 Nov 2011:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1213214


Intestinal epithelial stem cell identity and location has been the matter of substantial research. Cells in the +4 niche are slow-cycling and label retaining, while a distinct stem cell niche located at the crypt base is occupied by crypt base columnar (CBC) cells. CBCs are distinct from +4 cells, and the relationship between them is unknown, though both give rise to all intestinal epithelial lineages. We demonstrate that Hopx, an atypical homeobox protein, is a novel and specific marker of +4 cells. Hopx-expressing cells give rise to CBCs and all mature intestinal epithelial lineages. Conversely, CBCs can give rise to +4 Hopx positive cells. These findings demonstrate a bidirectional lineage relationship between active and quiescent stem cells in their niches.

Stay Connected to Science