Epithelial polarity is controlled by a polarity machinery that includes Rho GTPase CDC42 and Scribble/PAR. By using intestinal stem cell (ISC)-specific deletion of CDC42 in olfactomedin-4 (Olfm4)-internal ribosome entry site (IRES)-EGFP/CreERT2;CDC42flox/flox mice, we find that CDC42 loss initiated in the ISCs causes a drastic hyperproliferation of transit amplifying (TA) cells and disrupts epithelial polarity. CDC42-null crypts display expanded TA cell and diminished ISC populations, accompanied by elevated Hippo signaling via YAP/TAZ-Ereg (yes-associated protein/WW domain-containing transcription regulator protein 1-epiregulin) and mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) activation, independent from canonical Wnt signaling. YAP/TAZ conditional knockout (KO) restores the balance of ISC/TA cell populations and crypt proliferation but does not rescue the polarity in CDC42-null small intestine. mTOR or epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitor treatment of CDC42 KO mice exhibits similar rescuing effects without affecting YAP/TAZ signaling. Inducible ablation of Scribble in intestinal epithelial cells mimics that of CDC42 KO defects, including crypt hyperplasia and Hippo signaling activation. Mammalian epithelial polarity regulates ISC/TA cell fate and proliferation via a Hippo-Ereg-mTOR cascade.
Keywords: Cdc42; Hippo signaling; cell fate; intestinal stem cells; mTOR signaling; mouse model; polarity.
Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.