Adult stem cells are known to be the critical drivers of epithelial homeostasis and regeneration. In our lab, previously, we have shown that Bmpr1a and PTEN in mice perturb homeostasis of intestinal epithelial regeneration, with an expansion of the stem cell populations, eventually leading to intestinal polyposis (He et al, Nat. Genetics, 2004 & 2007). We are now studying different aspects of regeneration from the quiescent stem cells (+4 stem cells) and the signaling pathways involved after detailed identification of these active and quiescent stem cells (Li et al, Science 2010 & Wang et al, Gastro, 2012). Further, we are also investigating the interactions of intestinal stem cells with their local niche to maintain homeostasis. These studies will lead to understanding the biology of intestinal stem cells and accelerate developing stem-cell-based therapies for treating cancer and other intestinal disorders.
A small intestinal mini-organoidal structure with intestine stem cell (green) and differential cells (other colors).
Image by Fengchao Wang.