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Interconversion between intestinal stem cell populations in distinct niches.

Intestinal epithelial stem cell identity and location have been the subject of substantial research. Cells in the +4 niche are slow-cycling and label-retaining, whereas a different 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 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.

Pubmed ID: 22075725


  • Takeda N
  • Jain R
  • LeBoeuf MR
  • Wang Q
  • Lu MM
  • Epstein JA


Science (New York, N.Y.)

Publication Data

December 9, 2011

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: R01 HL071546
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: R01 HL071546
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: U01 HL100405
  • Agency: NHLBI NIH HHS, Id: U01 HL100405

Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Epithelial Cells
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Intestine, Small
  • Mice
  • Models, Biological
  • Multipotent Stem Cells
  • Paneth Cells
  • Stem Cell Niche
  • Tamoxifen