Highly proliferative Lgr5+ stem cells maintain the intestinal epithelium and are thought to be largely homogeneous. Although quiescent intestinal stem cell (ISC) populations have been described, the identity and features of such a population remain controversial. Here we report unanticipated heterogeneity within the Lgr5+ ISC pool. We found that expression of the RNA-binding protein Mex3a labels a slowly cycling subpopulation of Lgr5+ ISCs that contribute to all intestinal lineages with distinct kinetics. Single-cell transcriptome profiling revealed that Lgr5+ cells adopt two discrete states, one of which is defined by a Mex3a expression program and relatively low levels of proliferation genes. During homeostasis, Mex3a+ cells continually shift into the rapidly dividing, self-renewing ISC pool. Chemotherapy and radiation preferentially target rapidly dividing Lgr5+ cells but spare the Mex3a-high/Lgr5+ population, helping to promote regeneration of the intestinal epithelium following toxic insults. Thus, Mex3a defines a reserve-like ISC population within the Lgr5+ compartment.
Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) is a pattern recognition receptor that recognizes many types of PAMPs that originate from gram-positive bacteria. Here we describe a novel mechanism regulating TLR2 protein expression and subsequent cytokine release through the ubiquitination and degradation of the receptor in response to ligand stimulation. We show a new mechanism in which an uncharacterized RING finger E3 ligase, PPP1R11, directly ubiquitinates TLR2 both in vitro and in vivo, which leads to TLR2 degradation and disruption of the signaling cascade. Lentiviral gene transfer or knockdown of PPP1R11 in mouse lungs significantly affects lung inflammation and the clearance of Staphylococcus aureus. There is a negative correlation between PPP1R11 and TLR2 levels in white blood cell samples isolated from patients with Staphylococcus aureus infections. These results suggest that PPP1R11 plays an important role in regulating innate immunity and gram-positive bacterial clearance by functioning, in part, through the ubiquitination and degradation of TLR2.