[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 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 β-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.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(9):e73872. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: To facilitate the in vivo study of esophageal (stem) cell biology in homeostasis and cancer, novel mouse models are necessary to elicit expression of candidate genes in a tissue-specific and inducible fashion. To this aim, we developed and studied a mouse model to allow labeling of esophageal cells with the histone 2B-GFP (H2B-GFP) fusion protein. RESULTS: First, we generated a transgenic mouse model expressing the reverse tetracycline transactivator rtTA2-M2 under control of the promoter (ED-L2) of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) gene encoding the latent membrane protein-1 (LMP-1). The newly generated ED-L2-rtTA2-M2 (ED-L2-rtTA) mice were then bred with the previously developed tetOHIST1H2BJ/GFP (tetO-H2B-GFP) model to assess inducibility and tissue-specificity. Expression of the H2B-GFP fusion protein was observed upon doxycycline induction but was restricted to the terminally differentiated cells above the basal cell layer. To achieve expression in the basal compartment of the esophagus, we subsequently employed a different transgenic model expressing the reverse transactivator rtTA2S-M2 under the control of the ubiquitous, methylation-free CpG island of the human hnRNPA2B1-CBX3 gene (hnRNPrtTA). Upon doxycycline administration to the compound hnRNP-rtTA/tetO-H2B-GFP mice, near-complete labeling of all esophageal cells was achieved. Pulse-chase experiments confirmed that complete turnover of the esophageal epithelium in the adult mouse is achieved within 7-10 days. CONCLUSIONS: We show that the esophagus-specific promoter ED-L2 is expressed only in the differentiated cells above the basal layer. Moreover, we confirmed that esophageal turn-over in the adult mouse does not exceed 7-10 days.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult stem cell niches are often co-inhabited by cycling and quiescent stem cells. In the intestine, lineage tracing has identified Lgr5(+) cells as frequently cycling stem cells, whereas Bmi1(+), mTert(+), Hopx(+) and Lrig1(+) cells appear to be more quiescent. Here, we have applied a non-mutagenic and cell cycle independent approach to isolate and characterize small intestinal label-retaining cells (LRCs) persisting in the lower third of the crypt of Lieberkühn for up to 100 days. LRCs do not express markers of proliferation and of enterocyte, goblet or enteroendocrine differentiation, but are positive for Paneth cell markers. While during homeostasis, LR/Paneth cells appear to play a supportive role for Lgr5(+) stem cells as previously shown, upon tissue injury they switch to a proliferating state and in the process activate Bmi1 expression while silencing Paneth-specific genes. Hence, they are likely to contribute to the regenerative process following tissue insults such as chronic inflammation.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(6):e38965. · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Adult stem cell niches are characterized by a dichotomy of cycling and quiescent stem cells: while the former are responsible for tissue turnover, their quiescent counterparts are thought to become active upon tissue injury thus underlying the regenerative response. Moreover, quiescence prevents adult stem cells from accumulating mutations thus ensuring a reservoir of unaltered stem cells. In the intestine, while cycling stem cells were shown to give rise to the main differentiated lineages, the identity of their quiescent equivalents remains to date elusive. This is of relevance for conditions such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis where quiescent stem cells may underlie metaplasia and the increased cancer risk associated with chronic inflammation. Tumours are thought to share a comparable hierarchical structure of adult tissues with pluripotent and self-renewing cancer stem cells (CSCs) giving rise to more differentiated cellular types. As such, neoplastic lesions may encompass both cycling and quiescent CSCs. Because of their infrequent cycling, quiescent CSCs are refractory to chemo- and radiotherapy and are likely to play a role in tumour dissemination, dormancy and recurrence.
Cell Communication & Adhesion 09/2011; 18(3):33-44. · 1.05 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To develop a sensitive and inducible system to study intestinal biology, we generated a transgenic mouse model expressing the reverse tetracycline transactivator rtTA2-M2 under control of the 12.4 kb murine Villin promoter. The newly generated Villin-rtTA2-M2 mice were then bred with the previously developed tetO-HIST1H2BJ/GFP model to assess inducibility and tissue-specificity. Expression of the histone H2B-GFP fusion protein was observed exclusively upon doxycycline induction and was uniformly distributed throughout the intestinal epithelium. The Villin-rtTA2-M2 was also found to drive transgene expression in the developing mouse intestine. Furthermore, we could detect transgene expression in the proximal tubules of the kidney and in a population of alleged gastric progenitor cells. By administering different concentrations of doxycycline, we show that the Villin-rtTA2-M2 system drives transgene expression in a dosage-dependent fashion. Thus, we have generated a novel doxycycline-inducible mouse model, providing a valuable tool to study the effect of different gene dosages on intestinal physiology and pathology.