Indexed on: 22 Sep '12Published on: 22 Sep '12Published in: American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology
Stem cells have been identified in two locations in small intestinal crypts; those intercalated between Paneth cells and another population (which retains DNA label) are located above the Paneth cell zone, at cell position 4. Because of disadvantages associated with the use of DNA label, doxycycline-induced transient transgenic expression of histone 2B (H2B)-green fluorescent protein (GFP) was investigated. H2B-GFP-retaining putative stem cells were consistently seen, with a peak at cell position 4, over chase periods of up to 112 days. After a 28-day chase, a subpopulation of the H2B-GFP-retaining cells was cycling, but the slow cycling status of the majority was illustrated by lack of expression of pHistone H3 and Ki67. Although some H2B-GFP-retaining cells were sensitive to low-dose radiation, the majority was resistant to low- and high-dose radiation-induced cell death, and a proportion of the surviving cells proliferated during subsequent epithelial regeneration. Long-term retention of H2B-GFP in a subpopulation of small intestinal Paneth cells was also seen, implying that they are long lived. In contrast to the small intestine, H2B-GFP-retaining epithelial cells were not seen in the colon from 28-day chase onward. This implies important differences in stem cell function between these two regions of the gastrointestinal tract, which may have implications for region-specific susceptibility to diseases (such as cancer and ulcerative colitis), in which epithelial stem cells and their progeny are involved.