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Stem Cells January 1, 2017; 35 (10): 2175-2183.

Essential Roles of Thyroid Hormone-Regulated Hyaluronan/CD44 Signaling in Adult Stem Cell Development During Xenopus laevis Intestinal Remodeling.

In the amphibian intestine during metamorphosis, thyroid hormone (TH) induces some larval epithelial cells to dedifferentiate into stem cells, which generate the adult epithelium analogous to the mammalian intestinal epithelium. We have previously shown that the canonical Wnt signaling pathway is involved in adult epithelial development in the Xenopus laevis intestine. To understand the function of this pathway more precisely, we here focused on CD44, a major Wnt target, which has been identified as a TH response gene in the X. laevis intestine. Our in situ hybridization analysis indicated that CD44 mRNA is detectable in adult epithelial primordia consisting of the adult stem/progenitor cells and is strongly expressed in the connective tissue (CT) cells surrounding them. Interestingly, when the expression of CD44 mRNA is the highest, hyaluronan (HA), a principle ligand of CD44, is newly synthesized and becomes most abundantly distributed in the CT just beneath the adult epithelial primordia that are actively proliferating. Thereafter, as the adult primordia differentiate into the simple columnar epithelium, the expression of CD44 mRNA is gradually downregulated. More importantly, using organ cultures of the X. laevis tadpole intestine in the presence of TH, we have experimentally shown that inhibition of HA synthesis by 4-methylumbelliferone suppresses development of not only the CT but also the epithelial stem cells, resulting in failure to generate the AE. Our findings strongly suggest that TH-upregulated HA/CD44 signaling plays an essential role in formation of the intestinal stem cell niche during vertebrate postembryonic development. Stem Cells 2017;35:2175-2183.

PubMed ID: 28758360
Article link: Stem Cells

Genes referenced: cd44

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