Identifying the stem cell of the intestinal crypt: strategies and pitfalls

Cell Stem Cell. 2012 Oct 5;11(4):452-60. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2012.09.009.


Decades ago, two nonoverlapping crypt stem cell populations were proposed: Leblond's Crypt Base Columnar (CBC) cell and Potten's +4 cell. The identification of CBC markers including Lgr5 has confirmed Leblond's predictions that CBC cells are anatomically distinct, long-lived stem cells that permanently cycle. While Potten originally described +4 cells as proliferative and unusually radiation-sensitive, recent efforts to identify +4 stem cells have focused on the identification of cells that are quiescent and radiation-resistant. Here, we describe commonalities and discrepancies between the individual studies and discuss challenges of marker-based lineage tracing.

MeSH terms

  • Adult Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Adult Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Separation
  • Cell Surface Extensions / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / cytology*
  • Radiation Tolerance
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway


  • Biomarkers
  • LGR5 protein, human
  • Receptors, G-Protein-Coupled