Cellular shape reinforces niche to stem cell signaling in the small intestine

Sci Adv. 2022 Oct 14;8(41):eabm1847. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abm1847. Epub 2022 Oct 14.


Niche-derived factors regulate tissue stem cells, but apart from the mechanosensory pathways, the effect of niche geometry is not well understood. We used organoids and bioengineered tissue culture platforms to demonstrate that the conical shape of Lgr5+ small intestinal stem cells (ISCs) facilitate their self-renewal and function. Inhibition of non-muscle myosin II (NM II)-driven apical constriction altered ISC shape and reduced niche curvature and stem cell capacity. Niche curvature is decreased in aged mice, suggesting that suboptimal interactions between old ISCs and their niche develop with age. We show that activation of NM IIC or physical restriction to young topology improves in vitro regeneration by old epithelium. We propose that the increase in lateral surface area of ISCs induced by apical constriction promotes interactions between neighboring cells, and the curved topology of the intestinal niche has evolved to maximize signaling between ISCs and neighboring cells.