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, 143 (14), 2616-28

The Novel Enterochromaffin Marker Lmx1a Regulates Serotonin Biosynthesis in Enteroendocrine Cell Lineages Downstream of Nkx2.2

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The Novel Enterochromaffin Marker Lmx1a Regulates Serotonin Biosynthesis in Enteroendocrine Cell Lineages Downstream of Nkx2.2

Stefanie Gross et al. Development.

Abstract

Intestinal hormone-producing cells represent the largest endocrine system in the body, but remarkably little is known about enteroendocrine cell type specification in the embryo and adult. We analyzed stage- and cell type-specific deletions of Nkx2.2 and its functional domains in order to characterize its role in the development and maintenance of enteroendocrine cell lineages in the mouse duodenum and colon. Although Nkx2.2 regulates enteroendocrine cell specification in the duodenum at all stages examined, it controls the differentiation of progressively fewer enteroendocrine cell populations when deleted from Ngn3(+) progenitor cells or in the adult duodenum. During embryonic development Nkx2.2 regulates all enteroendocrine cell types, except gastrin and preproglucagon. In developing Ngn3(+) enteroendocrine progenitor cells, Nkx2.2 is not required for the specification of neuropeptide Y and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide, indicating that a subset of these cell populations derive from an Nkx2.2-independent lineage. In adult duodenum, Nkx2.2 becomes dispensable for cholecystokinin and secretin production. In all stages and Nkx2.2 mutant conditions, serotonin-producing enterochromaffin cells were the most severely reduced enteroendocrine lineage in the duodenum and colon. We determined that the transcription factor Lmx1a is expressed in enterochromaffin cells and functions downstream of Nkx2.2. Lmx1a-deficient mice have reduced expression of Tph1, the rate-limiting enzyme for serotonin biosynthesis. These data clarify the function of Nkx2.2 in the specification and homeostatic maintenance of enteroendocrine populations, and identify Lmx1a as a novel enterochromaffin cell marker that is also essential for the production of the serotonin biosynthetic enzyme Tph1.

Keywords: Enterochromaffin; Enteroendocrine cells; Intestine; Lmx1a; Nkx2.2; Serotonin.

Conflict of interest statement

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing or financial interests.

Figures

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.
Expression analysis of the duodenum and colon of Nkx2.2Δint mice. (A) RNA-Seq analysis of the duodenum and colon of 6-week-old Nkx2.2Δint mice revealed 211 significantly upregulated and 184 significantly downregulated genes in the duodenum and 36 significantly upregulated and 53 significantly downregulated genes in the colon (P<0.05). Among the significantly downregulated genes in the duodenum are most of the enteroendocrine cell hormones, except Ghrl, which is significantly upregulated (see Table 1). In the colon, few enteroendocrine hormones are changed. (B-I) Immunofluorescence of the duodenum (B,D,F,H) and qPCR analysis of the duodenum and colon (C,E,G,I; n=5) of 6-week-old Nkx2.2Δint mice, showing significant reduction in expression of the enteroendocrine marker Chga (B,C) and the rate-limiting enzyme for 5-HT biosynthesis Tph1 (D,E). The expression of the hormone Ghrl is significantly higher in the duodenum, as well as in the colon, than in controls (F,G). Expression of the hormone Sst is significantly reduced in the duodenum of Nkx2.2Δint mice, but is unchanged in the colon (H,I). Arrows indicate hormone-positive cells. **P<0.01, ***P<0.001.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.
qPCR expression analysis of the duodenum or colon of Nkx2.2Δint, Nkx2.2Δprogenitor and Nkx2.2Δadult mice. (A) Analysis of the duodenum and colon of 6-week-old Nkx2.2Δint mice (n=5) shows no changes in Atoh1, Foxa2, Hes1, Klf4, Klf5 and Ngn3. (B) The P0 Nkx2.2Δprogenitor duodenum (n=5) revealed significantly decreased expression of most hormones analyzed, except for higher expression of Ghrl and no change in expression for ppGcg, Npy and Vip. (C) Nkx2.2Δadult mice were tamoxifen injected at 7 weeks of age for 5 consecutive days (days 1-5) and the duodenum harvested 14 days after the last injection (day 19; n=4). The duodenum of 7-week-old control mice was harvested at day 1 (n=3). qPCR analysis showed a significant reduction in expression of Chga, ppGcg, Gip, Nts, Pyy, Sst, Tac1 and Tph1, but an increase in Ghrl, in the duodenum of the 7- to 10-week-old Nkx2.2Δadult mice. Expression of the hormones Cck, Gast, Npy, Sct and Vip was unchanged. *P<0.05, **P<0.01, ***P<0.001.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 3.
Comparison of gene expression changes in the duodenum of Nkx2.2Δint, SDint and TNint mice. (A) Venn diagram summarizing gene expression changes in the duodenum of Nkx2.2Δint, SDint and TNint mice identified by RNA-Seq. (B) List of the eight genes with significantly changed expression in the duodenum of Nkx2.2Δint, SDint and TNint mice; the 11 genes significantly changed in Nkx2.2Δint and SDint mice; the 26 genes that are changed in both Nkx2.2Δint and TNint mice; and the nine genes significantly differentially expressed in SDint and TNint.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 4.
Lmx1a is expressed in 5-HT-expressing cells. (A) qPCR analysis of the duodenum of Nkx2.2Δprogenitor (n=5) and Nkx2.2Δadult (control, n=3; mutant, n=4) mice reveals a significant reduction in Lmx1a in Nkx2.2Δprogenitor mice and absence of Lmx1a expression in Nkx2.2Δadult mice compared with controls. (B-E) Immunofluorescence analysis of the duodenum of 6-week-old Lmx1aeGFP/+ mice shows that Lmx1a is expressed in Chga+ enteroendocrine cells (B,D) and in 5-HT+ cells (C,E) in the small (B,C) and large (D,E) intestine. Arrows indicate co-expressing cells that are shown at higher magnification in the insets. (F) qPCR analysis of the small intestine of P0 Lmx1aeGFP/EGFP mice shows that Chga and Tph1 expression is significantly reduced, whereas Gip and Sst are upregulated (n=4). (G) Luciferase reporter assays in MIN6 cells. The pGL4.27:Lmx1a enhancer element (Lmx1a-Enh) and pcDNA3:myc-Nkx2.2 expression plasmid were co-transfected into MIN6 cells. Luciferase values were normalized to Renilla activity to account for transfection efficiencies (n=3). *P<0.05, **P<0.01, ***P<0.001.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 5.
Regulation of 5-HT biosynthesis in the CNS and intestine by Nkx2.2. In the CNS, Lmx1b is downstream of Nkx2.2 and is required for 5-HT biosynthesis by regulating Tph2 expression. Ngn3 represses the serotonergic fate. In the intestine, Nkx2.2 is downstream of the enteroendocrine progenitor marker Ngn3. We identified Lmx1a, a paralog of Lmx1b, downstream of Nkx2.2 as a regulator of Tph1 expression and thereby controls 5-HT biosynthesis in enterochromaffin cells.

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