Cultured intestinal stem cells can be coaxed to produce the many different cell types that make up the intestinal epithelium, a Nature paper reveals. The study offers insights into the links between stem cells and their microenvironment, as well as providing a robust culture system for generating intestinal epithelium - the most rapidly self-renewing tissue found in adult mammals.
The stem cells, which express the protein Lgr5, are found in infolded regions of intestinal epithelium called crypts. Hans Clevers and colleagues describe a long-term culture method for turning single Lgr5-expressing stem cells or single crypt structures into organ-like structures containing all the differentiated cell types found in intestinal crypts. The data indicate that crypts are self-organizing structures, which can be built from a single stem cell in the absence of a cellular niche.
Hans Clevers (Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, Netherlands)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature press release.
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