Much of our understanding about how intestinal stem and progenitor cells are regulated comes from studying the late fetal stages of development and the adult intestine. In this light, little is known about intestine development prior to the formation of stereotypical villus structures with columnar epithelium, a stage when the epithelium is pseudostratified and appears to be a relatively uniform population of progenitor cells with high proliferative capacity. Here, we investigated a role for WNT/β-CATENIN signaling during the pseudostratified stages of development (E13.5, E14.5) and following villus formation (E15.5) in mice. In contrast to the well-described role for WNT/β-CATENIN signaling as a regulator of stem/progenitor cells in the late fetal and adult gut, conditional epithelial deletion of β-catenin or the Frizzled co-receptors Lrp5 and Lrp6 had no effect on epithelial progenitor cell proliferation in the pseudostratified epithelium. Mutant embryos displayed obvious developmental defects, including loss of proliferation and disruptions in villus formation starting only at E15.5. Mechanistically, our data suggest that WNT signaling-mediated proliferation at the time of villus formation is driven by mesenchymal, but not epithelial, WNT ligand secretion.
Keywords: WNT; development; epithelium; intestine; morphogenesis; progenitor cell; proliferation; stem cell; villus; β-CATENIN.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.