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      In vitro expansion of single Lgr5+ liver stem cells induced by Wnt-driven regeneration.

      Nature

      Alleles, Animals, Bile Ducts, cytology, metabolism, Cell Lineage, Clone Cells, Culture Media, chemistry, Disease Models, Animal, Female, Gene Knock-In Techniques, Hepatocytes, pathology, Hydrolases, deficiency, genetics, Liver, Liver Diseases, Male, Mice, Multipotent Stem Cells, Organoids, transplantation, Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled, agonists, Regeneration, Stem Cells, Thrombospondins, Tyrosinemias, Wnt Signaling Pathway

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          Abstract

          The Wnt target gene Lgr5 (leucine-rich-repeat-containing G-protein-coupled receptor 5) marks actively dividing stem cells in Wnt-driven, self-renewing tissues such as small intestine and colon, stomach and hair follicles. A three-dimensional culture system allows long-term clonal expansion of single Lgr5(+) stem cells into transplantable organoids (budding cysts) that retain many characteristics of the original epithelial architecture. A crucial component of the culture medium is the Wnt agonist RSPO1, the recently discovered ligand of LGR5. Here we show that Lgr5-lacZ is not expressed in healthy adult liver, however, small Lgr5-LacZ(+) cells appear near bile ducts upon damage, coinciding with robust activation of Wnt signalling. As shown by mouse lineage tracing using a new Lgr5-IRES-creERT2 knock-in allele, damage-induced Lgr5(+) cells generate hepatocytes and bile ducts in vivo. Single Lgr5(+) cells from damaged mouse liver can be clonally expanded as organoids in Rspo1-based culture medium over several months. Such clonal organoids can be induced to differentiate in vitro and to generate functional hepatocytes upon transplantation into Fah(-/-) mice. These findings indicate that previous observations concerning Lgr5(+) stem cells in actively self-renewing tissues can also be extended to damage-induced stem cells in a tissue with a low rate of spontaneous proliferation.

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          Most cited references 18

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          The Lgr5 intestinal stem cell signature: robust expression of proposed quiescent '+4' cell markers.

          Two types of stem cells are currently defined in small intestinal crypts: cycling crypt base columnar (CBC) cells and quiescent '+4' cells. Here, we combine transcriptomics with proteomics to define a definitive molecular signature for Lgr5(+) CBC cells. Transcriptional profiling of FACS-sorted Lgr5(+) stem cells and their daughters using two microarray platforms revealed an mRNA stem cell signature of 384 unique genes. Quantitative mass spectrometry on the same cell populations identified 278 proteins enriched in intestinal stem cells. The mRNA and protein data sets showed a high level of correlation and a combined signature of 510 stem cell-enriched genes was defined. Spatial expression patterns were further characterized by mRNA in-situ hybridization, revealing that approximately half of the genes were expressed in a gradient with highest levels at the crypt bottom, while the other half was expressed uniquely in Lgr5(+)stem cells. Lineage tracing using a newly established knock-in mouse for one of the signature genes, Smoc2, confirmed its stem cell specificity. Using this resource, we find-and confirm by independent approaches-that the proposed quiescent/'+4' stem cell markers Bmi1, Tert, Hopx and Lrig1 are robustly expressed in CBC cells.
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            R-spondins function as ligands of the orphan receptors LGR4 and LGR5 to regulate Wnt/beta-catenin signaling.

            The Wnt/β-catenin signaling system plays essential roles in embryonic development and in the self-renewal and maintenance of adult stem cells. R-spondins (RSPOs) are a group of secreted proteins that enhance Wnt/β-catenin signaling and have pleiotropic functions in development and stem cell growth. LGR5, an orphan receptor of the G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) superfamily, is specifically expressed in stem cells of the intestinal crypt and hair follicle. Knockout of LGR5 in the mouse results in neonatal lethality. LGR4, a receptor closely related to LGR5, also has essential roles in development, as its knockout leads to reduced viability and retarded growth. Overexpression of both receptors has been reported in several types of cancer. Here we demonstrate that LGR4 and LGR5 bind the R-spondins with high affinity and mediate the potentiation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling by enhancing Wnt-induced LRP6 phosphorylation. Interestingly, neither receptor is coupled to heterotrimeric G proteins or to β-arrestin when stimulated by the R-spondins, indicating a unique mechanism of action. The findings provide a basis for stem cell-specific effects of Wnt/β-catenin signaling and for the broad range of functions LGR4, LGR5, and the R-spondins have in normal and malignant growth.
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              Functional engraftment of colon epithelium expanded in vitro from a single adult Lgr5⁺ stem cell.

              Adult stem-cell therapy holds promise for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. Here we describe methods for long-term expansion of colonic stem cells positive for leucine-rich repeat containing G protein-coupled receptor 5 (Lgr5(+) cells) in culture. To test the transplantability of these cells, we reintroduced cultured GFP(+) colon organoids into superficially damaged mouse colon. The transplanted donor cells readily integrated into the mouse colon, covering the area that lacked epithelium as a result of the introduced damage in recipient mice. At 4 weeks after transplantation, the donor-derived cells constituted a single-layered epithelium, which formed self-renewing crypts that were functionally and histologically normal. Moreover, we observed long-term (>6 months) engraftment with transplantation of organoids derived from a single Lgr5(+) colon stem cell after extensive in vitro expansion. These data show the feasibility of colon stem-cell therapy based on the in vitro expansion of a single adult colonic stem cell.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                23354049
                3634804
                10.1038/nature11826

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