?4 Coordinates Small Intestinal Epithelium Homeostasis by Regulating Stability of HuR.
ABSTRACT: The mammalian intestinal epithelium is a rapidly self-renewing tissue in the body, and its homeostasis depends on a dynamic balance among proliferation, migration, apoptosis, and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). The protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A)-associated protein ?4 controls the activity and specificity of serine/threonine phosphatases and is thus implicated in many cellular processes. Here, using a genetic approach, we investigated the mechanisms whereby ?4 controls the homeostasis of the intestinal epithelium. In mice with ablated ?4, the small intestinal mucosa exhibited crypt hyperplasia, villus shrinkage, defective differentiation of Paneth cells, and reduced IEC migration along the crypt-villus axis. The ?4-deficient intestinal epithelium also displayed decreased expression of different intercellular junction proteins and abnormal epithelial permeability. In addition, ?4 deficiency decreased the levels of the RNA-binding protein HuR in the mucosal tissue. In cultured IECs, ectopic overexpression of HuR in ?4-deficient cells rescued the production of these intercellular junction proteins and restored the epithelial barrier function to a nearly normal level. Mechanistically, ?4 silencing destabilized HuR through a process involving HuR phosphorylation by I?B kinase ?, leading to ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis of HuR. These findings indicate that the critical impact of ?4 upon the barrier function and homeostasis of the intestinal epithelium depends largely on its ability to regulate the stability of HuR.
Project description:Reports have suggested that the two Notch ligands, Dll1 and Dll4, are indispensable to maintain the homeostasis of the intestinal epithelium. However, within the intestinal epithelium, the precise distribution of the cells that express those ligands at the protein level remains largely unknown. Here, we show a series of immunohistochemical analysis through which we successfully identified mice intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) that endogenously express Dll1 or Dll4. Results showed that Dll1-positive (Dll1+ve) IECs reside exclusively within the crypt, whereas Dll4-positive (Dll4+ve) IECs can locate both in the crypt and in the villus of the small intestine. Also in the colon, Dll1+ve IECs resided at the lower part of the crypt, whereas Dll4+ve IECs resided at both upper and lower part of the crypt, including the surface epithelium. Both Dll1+ve and Dll4+ve IECs were ATOH1-positive, but Hes1-negative cells, and located adjacent to Hes1-positive cells within the crypts. A sub-population of both Dll1+ve and Dll4+ve IECs appeared to co-express Muc2, but rarely co-expressed other secretory lineage markers. However, as compared to Dll1+ve IECs, Dll4+ve IECs included larger number of Muc2-postive IECs, suggesting that Dll4 is more preferentially expressed by goblet cells. Also, we identified that Dll4 is expressed in the Paneth cells of the small intestine, whereas Dll1 and Dll4 is expressed in the c-kit-positive IECs of the colon, indicating that Dll1+ve and Dll4+ve IECs may contribute to constitute the intestinal stem cell niche. Compared to the normal colon, analysis of DSS-colitis showed that number of Dll1+ve IECs significantly decrease in the elongated crypts of the inflamed colonic mucosa. In sharp contrast, number of Dll4+ve IECs showed a significant increase in those crypts, which was accompanied by the increase in number of Hes1-positive IECs. Those Dll4+ve IECs were mostly found adjacent to the Hes1-positive IECs, suggesting that Dll4 may act as a major Notch ligand in the crypts of the inflamed colonic mucosa. Our results illustrate distinct expression patterns of Dll1 and Dll4 within the intestinal epithelium, and suggest that these two ligands may have different roles in normal and inflamed mucosa.
Project description:Members of the Ets transcription factor family are widely expressed in both the developing and mature mammalian intestine, but their biological functions remain primarily uncharacterized. We used a dominant repressor transgene approach to probe the function of epithelial Ets factors in the homeostasis of the crypt-villus unit, the functional unit of the small intestine. We show that targeted expression in small intestinal epithelium of a fusion protein composed of the Engrailed repressor domain and the Erm DNA-binding domain (En/Erm) results in marked disruption of normal crypt-villus homeostasis, including a cell-autonomous disturbance of epithelial maturation, increased epithelial transit, severe villus dysmorphogenesis, and crypt dysmorphogenesis. The epithelial maturation disturbance is independent of the regulation of TGFbetaRII levels, in contrast to Ets-mediated epithelial differentiation during development; rather, regulation of Cdx2 expression may play a role. The villus dysmorphogenesis is independent of alterations in the crypt-villus boundary and inappropriate beta-catenin activation, and thus appears to represent a new mechanism controlling villus architectural organization. An Analysis of animals mosaic for En/Erm expression suggests that crypt nonautonomous mechanisms underlie the crypt dysmorphogenesis phenotype. Our studies thus uncover novel Ets-regulated pathways of intestinal homeostasis in vivo. Interestingly, the overall En/Erm phenotype of disturbed crypt-villus homeostasis is consistent with recently identified Ets function(s) in the restriction of intestinal epithelial tumorigenesis.
Project description:Intestinal stem cells (ISCs) drive small intestinal epithelial homeostasis and regeneration. Mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) regulates stem and progenitor cell metabolism and is frequently dysregulated in human disease, but its physiologic functions in the mammalian small intestinal epithelium remain poorly defined. We disrupted the genes mTOR, Rptor, Rictor, or both Rptor and Rictor in mouse ISCs, progenitors, and differentiated intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) using Villin-Cre. Mutant tissues and wild-type or heterozygous littermate controls were analyzed by histologic immunostaining, immunoblots, and proliferation assays. A total of 10 Gy irradiation was used to injure the intestinal epithelium and induce subsequent crypt regeneration. We report that mTOR supports absorptive enterocytes and secretory Paneth and goblet cell function while negatively regulating chromogranin A-positive enteroendocrine cell number. Through additional Rptor, Rictor, and Rptor/Rictor mutant mouse models, we identify mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 as the major IEC regulatory pathway, but mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 2 also contributes to ileal villus maintenance and goblet cell size. Homeostatic adult small intestinal crypt cell proliferation, survival, and canonical wingless-int (WNT) activity are not mTOR dependent, but Olfm4(+) ISC/progenitor population maintenance and crypt regeneration postinjury require mTOR. Overall, we conclude that mTOR regulates multiple IEC lineages and promotes stem and progenitor cell activity during intestinal epithelium repair postinjury.
Project description:TLR3 signaling is activated by dsRNA, a virus-associated molecular pattern. Injection of dsRNA into mice induced a rapid, dramatic, and reversible remodeling of the small intestinal mucosa with significant villus shortening. Villus shortening was preceded by increased caspase 3 and 8 activation and apoptosis of intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) located in the mid to upper villus with ensuing luminal fluid accumulation and diarrhea because of an increased secretory state. Mice lacking TLR3 or the adaptor molelcule TRIF mice were completely protected from dsRNA-induced IEC apoptosis, villus shortening, and diarrhea. dsRNA-induced apoptosis was independent of TNF signaling. Notably, NF-?B signaling through I?B kinase ? protected crypt IECs but did not protect villus IECs from dsRNA-induced or TNF-induced apoptosis. dsRNA did not induce early caspase 3 activation with subsequent villus shortening in mice lacking caspase 8 in IECs but instead caused villus destruction with a loss of small intestinal surface epithelium and death. Consistent with direct activation of the TLR3-TRIF-caspase 8 signaling pathway by dsRNA in IECs, dsRNA-induced signaling of apoptosis was independent of non-TLR3 dsRNA signaling pathways, IL-15, TNF, IL-1, IL-6, IFN regulatory factor 3, type I IFN receptor, adaptive immunity, as well as dendritic cells, NK cells, and other hematopoietic cells. We conclude that dsRNA activation of the TLR3-TRIF-caspase 8 signaling pathway in IECs has a significant impact on the structure and function of the small intestinal mucosa and suggest signaling through this pathway has a host protective role during infection with viral pathogens.
Project description:The life span of intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) is short (3-5 days), and its regulation is thought to be important for homeostasis of the intestinal epithelium. We have now investigated the role of commensal bacteria in regulation of IEC turnover in the small intestine. The proliferative activity of IECs in intestinal crypts as well as the migration of these cells along the crypt-villus axis were markedly attenuated both in germ-free mice and in specific pathogen-free (SPF) mice treated with a mixture of antibiotics, with antibiotics selective for Gram-positive bacteria being most effective in this regard. Oral administration of chloroform-treated feces of SPF mice to germ-free mice resulted in a marked increase in IEC turnover, suggesting that spore-forming Gram-positive bacteria contribute to this effect. Oral administration of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) as bacterial fermentation products also restored the turnover of IECs in antibiotic-treated SPF mice as well as promoted the development of intestinal organoids in vitro. Antibiotic treatment reduced the phosphorylation levels of ERK, ribosomal protein S6, and STAT3 in IECs of SPF mice. Our results thus suggest that Gram-positive commensal bacteria are a major determinant of IEC turnover, and that their stimulatory effect is mediated by SCFAs.
Project description:The mucus layer in the intestine affects several aspects of intestinal biology, encompassing physical, chemical protection, immunomodulation and growth, thus contributing to homeostasis. Mice with genetic inactivation of the Muc2 gene, encoding the MUC2 mucin, the major protein component of mucus, exhibit altered intestinal homeostasis, which is strictly dependent on the habitat, likely due to differing complements of intestinal microbes. Our previous work established that Muc2 deficiency was linked to low chronic inflammation resulting in tumor development in the small, large intestine including the rectum. Here, we report that inactivation of Muc2 alters metabolic pathways in the normal appearing mucosa of Muc2-/- mice. Comparative analysis of gene expression profiling of isolated intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) and the entire intestinal mucosa, encompassing IECs, immune and stromal cells underscored that more than 50% of the changes were common to both sets of data, suggesting that most alterations were IEC-specific. IEC-specific expression data highlighted perturbation of lipid absorption, processing and catabolism linked to altered Ppar? signaling in IECs. Concomitantly, alterations of glucose metabolism induced expression of genes linked to de novo lipogenesis, a characteristic of tumor cells. Importantly, gene expression alterations characterizing Muc2-/- IECs are similar to those observed when analyzing the gene expression signature of IECs along the crypt-villus axis in WT B6 mice, suggesting that Muc2-/- IECs display a crypt-like gene expression signature. Thus, our data strongly suggest that decreased lipid metabolism, and alterations in glucose utilization characterize the crypt proliferative compartment, and may represent a molecular signature of pre-neoplastic lesions.
Project description:Intestinal epithelial autophagy is crucial for host defense against invasive pathogens, and defects in this process occur frequently in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and other mucosal disorders, but the exact mechanism that activates autophagy is poorly defined. Here, we investigated the role of RNA-binding protein HuR (human antigen R) in the posttranscriptional control of autophagy-related genes (ATGs) in the intestinal epithelium. We found that targeted deletion of HuR in intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) specifically decreased the levels of ATG16L1 in the intestinal mucosa. Intestinal mucosa from patients with IBD exhibited reduced levels of both HuR and ATG16L1. HuR directly interacted with Atg16l1 mRNA via its 3' untranslated region and enhanced ATG16L1 translation, without affecting Atg16l1 mRNA stability. Circular RNA circPABPN1 blocked HuR binding to Atg16l1 mRNA and lowered ATG16L1 production. HuR silencing in cultured IECs also prevented rapamycin-induced autophagy, which was abolished by overexpressing ATG16L1. These findings indicate that HuR regulates autophagy by modulating ATG16L1 translation via interaction with circPABPN1 in the intestinal epithelium.
Project description:Maintenance of the intestinal mucosa is driven by local signals that coordinate epithelial proliferation, differentiation, and turnover in order to separate antigenic luminal contents from the host's immune system. Breaches in this barrier promote gastrointestinal pathologies ranging from inflammatory bowel disease to cancer. The ubiquitin ligase ITCH is known to regulate immune responses, and loss of function of ITCH has been associated with gastrointestinal inflammatory disorders, particularly in the colon. However, the small intestine appears to be spared from this pathology. Here we explored the physiological mechanism that underlies the preservation of mucosal homeostasis in the small intestine in mice lacking ITCH (Itcha18H/a18H). Histological analysis of the small intestines from young adult mice revealed architectural changes in animals deficient for ITCH, including villus blunting with cell crowding, crypt expansion, and thickening of the muscularis propria relative to age-matched mice sufficient for ITCH. These differences were more prominent in the distal part of the small intestine and were not dependent upon lymphoid cells. Underlying the observed changes in the epithelium were expansion of the Ki67+ proliferating transit amplifying progenitor population and increased numbers of terminally differentiated mucus-secreting goblet and anti-microbial producing Paneth cells, which are both important in controlling local inflammation in the small intestine and are known to be dysregulated in inflammatory bowel disease. Homeostasis in the small intestine of Itcha18H/a18H animals was maintained by increased cell turnover, including accelerated migration of epithelial cells along the crypt-villus axis and increased apoptosis of epithelial cells at the crypt-villus junction. Consistent with this enhanced turnover, Itcha18H/a18H mice carrying the Min mutation (Itcha18H/a18H; ApcMin/+) displayed a 76% reduction in tumor burden as compared to ApcMin/+ littermates with normal levels of ITCH. These findings highlight the role of ITCH as an important modulator of intestinal epithelial homeostasis.
Project description:The intestinal epithelium is a single layer of cells which provides the first line of defence of the intestinal mucosa to bacterial infection. Cohesion of this physical barrier is supported by renewal of epithelial stem cells, residing in invaginations called crypts, and by crypt cell migration onto protrusions called villi; dysregulation of such mechanisms may render the gut susceptible to chronic inflammation. The impact that excessive or misplaced epithelial cell death may have on villus cell migration is currently unknown. We integrated cell-tracking methods with computational models to determine how epithelial homeostasis is affected by acute and chronic TNF?-driven epithelial cell death. Parameter inference reveals that acute inflammatory cell death has a transient effect on epithelial cell dynamics, whereas cell death caused by chronic elevated TNF? causes a delay in the accumulation of labelled cells onto the villus compared to the control. Such a delay may be reproduced by using a cell-based model to simulate the dynamics of each cell in a crypt-villus geometry, showing that a prolonged increase in cell death slows the migration of cells from the crypt to the villus. This investigation highlights which injuries (acute or chronic) may be regenerated and which cause disruption of healthy epithelial homeostasis.
Project description:Inhibition of growth of the intestinal epithelium, a rapidly self-renewing tissue, is commonly found in various critical disorders. The RNA-binding protein HuR is highly expressed in the gut mucosa and modulates the stability and translation of target mRNAs, but its exact biological function in the intestinal epithelium remains unclear. Here, we investigated the role of HuR in intestinal homeostasis using a genetic model and further defined its target mRNAs. Targeted deletion of HuR in intestinal epithelial cells caused significant mucosal atrophy in the small intestine, as indicated by decreased cell proliferation within the crypts and subsequent shrinkages of crypts and villi. In addition, the HuR-deficient intestinal epithelium also displayed decreased regenerative potential of crypt progenitors after exposure to irradiation. HuR deficiency decreased expression of the Wnt coreceptor LDL receptor-related protein 6 (LRP6) in the mucosal tissues. At the molecular level, HuR was found to bind the Lrp6 mRNA via its 3'-untranslated region and enhanced LRP6 expression by stabilizing Lrp6 mRNA and stimulating its translation. These results indicate that HuR is essential for normal mucosal growth in the small intestine by altering Wnt signals through up-regulation of LRP6 expression and highlight a novel role of HuR deficiency in the pathogenesis of intestinal mucosal atrophy under pathological conditions.