Quiescence Exit of Tert+ Stem Cells by Wnt/β-Catenin Is Indispensable for Intestinal Regeneration

  

Fine control of stem cell maintenance and activation is crucial for tissue homeostasis and regeneration. However, the mechanism of quiescence exit of Tert+ intestinal stem cells (ISCs) remains unknown. Employing a Tert knock-in (TertTCE/+) mouse model, we found that Tert+ cells are long-term label-retaining self-renewing cells, which are partially distinguished from the previously identified +4 intestinal stem cells (ISCs). Tert+ cells become mitotic upon irradiation (IR) injury. Conditional ablation of Tert+ cells impairs IR-induced intestinal regeneration but not intestinal homeostasis. Upon IR injury, Wnt signaling is specifically activated in Tert+ cells via the ROS-HIFs-transactivated Wnt2b signaling axis. Importantly, conditional knock-out of β-catenin/Ctnnb1 in Tert+ cells undermines IR-induced quiescence exit of Tert+ cells, which subsequently impedes intestinal regeneration. Our results strongly suggest that Wnt signaling-induced activation of Tert+ ISCs is indispensable for intestinal regeneration, which unveils the underlying mechanism of how Tert+ stem cells undergo quiescence exit upon tissue injury. 

 

Hanna Suh et al., Cell Reports 2017 (PDF)