The gastrointestinal tract is lined by a series of epithelia that share functional requirements but also have distinct, highly specialized roles. Distinct populations of somatic stem cells (SCs) regenerate these epithelia, yet the mechanisms that maintain regional identities of these SCs are not well understood. Here, we identify a role for the BMP-like Dpp signaling pathway in diversifying regenerative processes in the adult gastrointestinal tract of Drosophila. Dpp secreted from enterocytes at the boundary between the posterior midgut and the middle midgut (MM) sets up a morphogen gradient that selectively directs copper cell (CC) regeneration from gastric SCs in the MM and thus determines the size of the CC region. In vertebrates, deregulation of BMP signaling has been associated with Barrett's metaplasia, wherein the squamous esophageal epithelium is replaced by a columnar epithelium, suggesting that the maintenance of regional SC identities by BMP is conserved.
Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.