The Journal of cell biology

Msi RNA-binding proteins control reserve intestinal stem cell quiescence.

PMID 27799368


Regeneration of the intestinal epithelium is driven by multiple intestinal stem cell (ISC) types, including an active, radiosensitive Wnt(high) ISC that fuels turnover during homeostasis and a reserve, radioresistant Wnt(low/off) ISC capable of generating active Wnt(high) ISCs. We examined the role of the Msi family of oncoproteins in the ISC compartment. We demonstrated that Msi proteins are dispensable for normal homeostasis and self-renewal of the active ISC, despite their being highly expressed in these cells. In contrast, Msi proteins are required specifically for activation of reserve ISCs, where Msi activity is both necessary and sufficient to drive exit from quiescence and entry into the cell cycle. Ablation of Msi activity in reserve ISCs rendered the epithelium unable to regenerate in response to injury that ablates the active stem cell compartment. These findings delineate a molecular mechanism governing reserve ISC quiescence and demonstrate a necessity for the activity of this rare stem cell population in intestinal regeneration.