Ap4 is rate limiting for intestinal tumor formation by controlling the homeostasis of intestinal stem cells.
ABSTRACT: The gene encoding the transcription factor TFAP4/AP4 represents a direct target of the c-MYC oncoprotein. Here, we deleted Ap4 in ApcMin mice, a preclinical model of inherited colorectal cancer. Ap4 deficiency extends their average survival by 110 days and decreases the formation of intestinal adenomas and tumor-derived organoids. The effects of Ap4 deletion are presumably due to the reduced number of functional intestinal stem cells (ISCs) amenable to adenoma-initiating mutational events. Deletion of Ap4 also decreases the number of colonic stem cells and increases the number of Paneth cells. Expression profiling revealed that ISC signatures, as well as the Wnt/β-catenin and Notch signaling pathways are downregulated in Ap4-deficient adenomas and intestinal organoids. AP4-associated signatures are conserved between murine adenomas and human colorectal cancer samples. Our results establish Ap4 as rate-limiting mediator of adenoma initiation, as well as regulator of intestinal and colonic stem cell and Paneth cell homeostasis.
Project description:In the majority of microsatellite-stable colorectal cancers (CRCs), an initiating mutation occurs in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) or ?-catenin gene, activating the ?-catenin/TCF pathway. The progression of resulting adenomas is associated with oncogenic activation of KRas and inactivation of the p53 and TGF-?/Smad functions. Most established CRC cell lines contain mutations in the TGF-?/Smad pathway, but little is known about the function of TGF-? in the early phases of intestinal tumorigenesis. We used mouse and human ex vivo 3D intestinal organoid cultures and in vivo mouse models to study the effect of TGF-? on the Lgr5(+) intestinal stem cells and their progeny in intestinal adenomas. We found that the TGF-?-induced apoptosis in Apc-mutant organoids, including the Lgr5(+) stem cells, was mediated by up-regulation of the BH3-only proapoptotic protein Bcl-2-like protein 11 (Bim). BH3-mimetic compounds recapitulated the effect of Bim not only in the adenomas but also in human CRC organoids that had lost responsiveness to TGF-?-induced apoptosis. However, wild-type intestinal crypts were markedly less sensitive to TGF-? than Apc-mutant adenomas, whereas the KRas oncogene increased resistance to TGF-? via the activation of the Erk1/2 kinase pathway, leading to Bim down-regulation. Our studies identify Bim as a critical mediator of TGF-?-induced apoptosis in intestinal adenomas and show that the common progression mutations modify Bim levels and sensitivity to TGF-? during intestinal adenoma development.
Project description:Constitutive activation of the Wnt pathway leads to adenoma formation, an obligatory step towards intestinal cancer. In view of the established role of Wnt in regulating stemness, we attempted the isolation of cancer stem cells (CSCs) from Apc- and Apc/KRAS-mutant intestinal tumours. Whereas CSCs are present in Apc/KRAS tumours, they appear to be very rare (<10(-6)) in the Apc-mutant adenomas. In contrast, the Lin(-)CD24(hi)CD29(+) subpopulation of adenocarcinoma cells appear to be enriched in CSCs with increased levels of active ?-catenin. Expression profiling analysis of the CSC-enriched subpopulation confirmed their enhanced Wnt activity and revealed additional differential expression of other signalling pathways, growth factor binding proteins, and extracellular matrix components. As expected, genes characteristic of the Paneth cell lineage (e.g. defensins) are co-expressed together with stem cell genes (e.g. Lgr5) within the CSC-enriched subpopulation. This is of interest as it may indicate a cancer stem cell niche role for tumor-derived Paneth-like cells, similar to their role in supporting Lgr5(+) stem cells in the normal intestinal crypt. Overall, our results indicate that oncogenic KRAS activation in Apc-driven tumours results in the expansion of the CSCs compartment by increasing ®-catenin intracellular stabilization.
Project description:BACKGROUND & AIMS:Paneth cells contribute to the small intestinal niche of Lgr5(+) stem cells. Although the colon also contains Lgr5(+) stem cells, it does not contain Paneth cells. We investigated the existence of colonic Paneth-like cells that have a distinct transcriptional signature and support Lgr5(+) stem cells. METHODS:We used multicolor fluorescence-activated cell sorting to isolate different subregions of colon crypts, based on known markers, from dissociated colonic epithelium of mice. We performed multiplexed single-cell gene expression analysis with quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction followed by hierarchical clustering analysis to characterize distinct cell types. We used immunostaining and fluorescence-activated cell sorting analyses with in vivo administration of a Notch inhibitor and in vitro organoid cultures to characterize different cell types. RESULTS:Multicolor fluorescence-activated cell sorting could isolate distinct regions of colonic crypts. Four major epithelial subtypes or transcriptional states were revealed by gene expression analysis of selected populations of single cells. One of these, the goblet cells, contained a distinct cKit/CD117(+) crypt base subpopulation that expressed Dll1, Dll4, and epidermal growth factor, similar to Paneth cells, which were also marked by cKit. In the colon, cKit(+) goblet cells were interdigitated with Lgr5(+) stem cells. In vivo, this colonic cKit(+) population was regulated by Notch signaling; administration of a ?-secretase inhibitor to mice increased the number of cKit(+) cells. When isolated from mouse colon, cKit(+) cells promoted formation of organoids from Lgr5(+) stem cells, which expressed Kitl/stem cell factor, the ligand for cKit. When organoids were depleted of cKit(+) cells using a toxin-conjugated antibody, organoid formation decreased. CONCLUSIONS:cKit marks small intestinal Paneth cells and a subset of colonic goblet cells that are regulated by Notch signaling and support Lgr5(+) stem cells.
Project description:The crypts of the intestinal epithelium house the stem cells that ensure the continual renewal of the epithelial cells that line the intestinal tract. Crypt number increases by a process called crypt fission, the division of a single crypt into two daughter crypts. Fission drives normal tissue growth and maintenance. Correspondingly, it becomes less frequent in adulthood. Importantly, fission is reactivated to drive adenoma growth. The mechanisms governing fission are poorly understood. However, only by knowing how normal fission operates can cancer-associated changes be elucidated. We studied normal fission in tissue in three dimensions using high-resolution imaging and used intestinal organoids to identify underlying mechanisms. We discovered that both the number and relative position of Paneth cells and Lgr5+ cells are important for fission. Furthermore, the higher stiffness and increased adhesion of Paneth cells are involved in determining the site of fission. Formation of a cluster of Lgr5+ cells between at least two Paneth-cell-rich domains establishes the site for the upward invagination that initiates fission.
Project description:Paneth cells contribute to small intestinal homeostasis by secreting antimicrobial peptides and constituting the intestinal stem cell (ISC) niche. Certain T cell-mediated enteropathies are characterized by extensive Paneth cell depletion coincident with mucosal destruction and dysbiosis. In this study, mechanisms of intestinal crypt injury have been investigated by characterizing responses of mouse intestinal organoids (enteroids) in coculture with mouse T lymphocytes. Activated T cells induced enteroid damage, reduced Paneth cell and Lgr5+ ISC mRNA levels, and induced Paneth cell death through a caspase-3/7-dependent mechanism. IFN-? mediated these effects, because IFN-? receptor-null enteroids were unaffected by activated T cells. In mice, administration of IFN-? induced enteropathy with crypt hyperplasia, villus shortening, Paneth cell depletion, and modified ISC marker expression. IFN-? exacerbated radiation enteritis, which was ameliorated by treatment with a selective JAK1/2 inhibitor. Thus, IFN-? induced Paneth cell death and impaired regeneration of small intestinal epithelium in vivo, suggesting that IFN-? may be a useful target for treating defective mucosal regeneration in enteric inflammation.
Project description:Mammalian small intestinal tight junctions (TJ) link epithelial cells to one another and function as a permselective barrier, strictly modulating the passage of ions and macromolecules through the pore and leak pathways, respectively, thereby preventing the absorption of harmful compounds and microbes while allowing regulated transport of nutrients and electrolytes. Small intestinal epithelial permeability is ascribed primarily to the properties of TJs between adjoining enterocytes (ENTs), because there is almost no information on TJ composition and the paracellular permeability of nonenterocyte cell types that constitute a small but significant fraction of the intestinal epithelia.Here we directed murine intestinal crypts to form specialized organoids highly enriched in intestinal stem cells (ISCs), absorptive ENTs, secretory goblet cells, or Paneth cells. The morphological and morphometric characteristics of these cells in organoids were similar to those in vivo. The expression of certain TJ proteins varied with cell type: occludin and tricellulin levels were high in both ISCs and Paneth cells, while claudin-1, -2, and -7 expression was greatest in Paneth cells, ISCs, and ENTs, respectively. In contrast, the distribution of claudin-15, zonula occludens 1 (ZO-1), and E-cadherin was relatively homogeneous. E-cadherin and claudin-7 marked mainly the basolateral membrane, while claudin-2, ZO-1, and occludin resided in the apical membrane. Remarkably, organoids enriched in ENTs or goblet cells were over threefold more permeable to 4 and 10 kDa dextran compared to those containing stem and Paneth cells. The TJ-regulator larazotide prevented the approximately tenfold increases in dextran flux induced by the TJ-disrupter AT1002 into organoids of different cell types, indicating that this ZO toxin nonselectively increases permeability. Forced dedifferentiation of mature ENTs results in the reacquisition of ISC-like characteristics in TJ composition and dextran permeability, suggesting that the post-differentiation properties of TJs are not hardwired.Differentiation of adult intestinal stem cells into mature secretory and absorptive cell types causes marked, but potentially reversible, changes in TJ composition, resulting in enhanced macromolecular permeability of the TJ leak pathway between ENTs and between goblet cells. This work advances our understanding of how cell differentiation affects the paracellular pathway of epithelia.
Project description:Intestinal epithelial homeostasis is maintained by adult intestinal stem cells, which, alongside Paneth cells, appear after birth in the neonatal period. We aimed to identify regulators of neonatal intestinal epithelial development by testing a small library of epigenetic modifier inhibitors in Paneth cell-skewed organoid cultures. We found that lysine-specific demethylase 1A (Kdm1a/Lsd1) is absolutely required for Paneth cell differentiation. Lsd1-deficient crypts, devoid of Paneth cells, are still able to form organoids without a requirement of exogenous or endogenous Wnt. Mechanistically, we find that LSD1 enzymatically represses genes that are normally expressed only in fetal and neonatal epithelium. This gene profile is similar to what is seen in repairing epithelium, and we find that Lsd1-deficient epithelium has superior regenerative capacities after irradiation injury. In summary, we found an important regulator of neonatal intestinal development and identified a druggable target to reprogram intestinal epithelium toward a reparative state.
Project description:Intestinal organoids are complex three-dimensional structures that mimic the cell-type composition and tissue organization of the intestine by recapitulating the self-organizing ability of cell populations derived from a single intestinal stem cell. Crucial in this process is a first symmetry-breaking event, in which only a fraction of identical cells in a symmetrical sphere differentiate into Paneth cells, which generate the stem-cell niche and lead to asymmetric structures such as the crypts and villi. Here we combine single-cell quantitative genomic and imaging approaches to characterize the development of intestinal organoids from single cells. We show that their development follows a regeneration process that is driven by transient activation of the transcriptional regulator YAP1. Cell-to-cell variability in YAP1, emerging in symmetrical spheres, initiates Notch and DLL1 activation, and drives the symmetry-breaking event and formation of the first Paneth cell. Our findings reveal how single cells exposed to a uniform growth-promoting environment have the intrinsic ability to generate emergent, self-organized behaviour that results in the formation of complex multicellular asymmetric structures.
Project description:Paneth cells are key epithelial cells that provide an antimicrobial barrier and maintain integrity of the small-intestinal stem cell niche. Paneth cell abnormalities are unfortunately detrimental to gut health and are often associated with digestive pathologies such as Crohn's disease or infections. Similar alterations are observed in individuals with impaired autophagy, a process that recycles cellular components. The direct effect of autophagy impairment on Paneth cells has not been analysed. To investigate this, we generated a mouse model lacking Atg16l1 specifically in intestinal epithelial cells, making these cells impaired in autophagy. Using three-dimensional intestinal organoids enriched for Paneth cells, we compared the proteomic profiles of wild-type and autophagy-impaired organoids. We used an integrated computational approach combining protein-protein interaction networks, autophagy-targeted proteins and functional information to identify the mechanistic link between autophagy impairment and disrupted pathways. Of the 284 altered proteins, 198 (70%) were more abundant in autophagy-impaired organoids, suggesting reduced protein degradation. Interestingly, these differentially abundant proteins comprised 116 proteins (41%) that are predicted targets of the selective autophagy proteins p62, LC3 and ATG16L1. Our integrative analysis revealed autophagy-mediated mechanisms that degrade key proteins in Paneth cell functions, such as exocytosis, apoptosis and DNA damage repair. Transcriptomic profiling of additional organoids confirmed that 90% of the observed changes upon autophagy alteration have effects at the protein level, not on gene expression. We performed further validation experiments showing differential lysozyme secretion, confirming our computationally inferred downregulation of exocytosis. Our observations could explain how protein-level alterations affect Paneth cell homeostatic functions upon autophagy impairment.This article has an associated First Person interview with the joint first authors of the paper.
Project description:Homeostasis of self-renewing small intestinal crypts results from neutral competition between Lgr5 stem cells, which are small cycling cells located at crypt bottoms. Lgr5 stem cells are interspersed between terminally differentiated Paneth cells that are known to produce bactericidal products such as lysozyme and cryptdins/defensins. Single Lgr5-expressing stem cells can be cultured to form long-lived, self-organizing crypt-villus organoids in the absence of non-epithelial niche cells. Here we find a close physical association of Lgr5 stem cells with Paneth cells in mice, both in vivo and in vitro. CD24(+) Paneth cells express EGF, TGF-?, Wnt3 and the Notch ligand Dll4, all essential signals for stem-cell maintenance in culture. Co-culturing of sorted stem cells with Paneth cells markedly improves organoid formation. This Paneth cell requirement can be substituted by a pulse of exogenous Wnt. Genetic removal of Paneth cells in vivo results in the concomitant loss of Lgr5 stem cells. In colon crypts, CD24(+) cells residing between Lgr5 stem cells may represent the Paneth cell equivalents. We conclude that Lgr5 stem cells compete for essential niche signals provided by a specialized daughter cell, the Paneth cell.