Notch in the intestine: regulation of homeostasis and pathogenesis

Annu Rev Physiol. 2013:75:263-88. doi: 10.1146/annurev-physiol-030212-183741. Epub 2012 Nov 26.


The small and large intestines are tubular organs composed of several tissue types. The columnar epithelium that lines the inner surface of the intestines distinguishes the digestive physiology of each region of the intestine and consists of several distinct cell types that are rapidly and continually renewed by intestinal stem cells that reside near the base of the crypts of Lieberkühn. Notch signaling controls the fate of intestinal stem cells by regulating the expression of Hes genes and by repressing Atoh1. Alternate models of Notch pathway control of cell fate determination are presented. Roles for Notch signaling in development of the intestine, including mesenchymal and neural cells, are discussed. The oncogenic activities of Notch in colorectal cancer, as well as the tumor suppressive activities of Atoh1, are reviewed. Therapeutic targeting of the Notch pathway in colorectal cancers is discussed, along with potential caveats.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Homeostasis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / physiology*
  • Receptors, Notch / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • Receptors, Notch