Intestinal Subepithelial Myofibroblasts Support the Growth of Intestinal Epithelial Stem Cells

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 6;9(1):e84651. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084651. eCollection 2014.

Abstract

Intestinal epithelial stem cells (ISCs) are the focus of recent intense study. Current in vitro models rely on supplementation with the Wnt agonist R-spondin1 to support robust growth, ISC self-renewal, and differentiation. Intestinal subepithelial myofibroblasts (ISEMFs) are important supportive cells within the ISC niche. We hypothesized that co-culture with ISEMF enhances the growth of ISCs in vitro and allows for their successful in vivo implantation and engraftment. ISC-containing small intestinal crypts, FACS-sorted single ISCs, and ISEMFs were procured from C57BL/6 mice. Crypts and single ISCs were grown in vitro into enteroids, in the presence or absence of ISEMFs. ISEMFs enhanced the growth of intestinal epithelium in vitro in a proximity-dependent fashion, with co-cultures giving rise to larger enteroids than monocultures. Co-culture of ISCs with supportive ISEMFs relinquished the requirement of exogenous R-spondin1 to sustain long-term growth and differentiation of ISCs. Mono- and co-cultures were implanted subcutaneously in syngeneic mice. Co-culture with ISEMFs proved necessary for successful in vivo engraftment and proliferation of enteroids; implants without ISEMFs did not survive. ISEMF whole transcriptome sequencing and qPCR demonstrated high expression of specific R-spondins, well-described Wnt agonists that supports ISC growth. Specific non-supportive ISEMF populations had reduced expression of R-spondins. The addition of ISEMFs in intestinal epithelial culture therefore recapitulates a critical element of the intestinal stem cell niche and allows for its experimental interrogation and biodesign-driven manipulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Intestinal Mucosa / cytology*
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myofibroblasts / metabolism*
  • Stem Cells / cytology
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Transcriptome