Reg4(+) deep crypt secretory cells function as epithelial niche for Lgr5(+) stem cells in colon

Nobuo Sasaki, Norman Sachs, Kay Wiebrands, Saskia I. J. Ellenbroek, Arianna Fumagalli, Anna Lyubimova, Harry Begthel, Maaike van den Born, Johan H. van Es, Wouter R. Karthaus, Vivian S. W. Li, Carmen López Iglesias, Peter Peters, Jacco van Rheenen, Alexander van Oudenaarden, Hans Clevers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Leucine-rich repeat-containing G-protein coupled receptor 5-positive (Lgr5(+)) stem cells reside at crypt bottoms of the small and large intestine. Small intestinal Paneth cells supply Wnt3, EGF, and Notch signals to neighboring Lgr5(+) stem cells. Whereas the colon lacks Paneth cells, deep crypt secretory (DCS) cells are intermingled with Lgr5(+) stem cells at crypt bottoms. Here, we report regenerating isletderived family member 4 (Reg4) as a marker of DCS cells. To investigate a niche function, we eliminatedDCS cells by using the diphtheriatoxin receptor gene knocked into themurine Reg4 locus. Ablation of DCS cells results in loss of stem cells from colonic crypts and disrupts gut homeostasis and colon organoid growth. In agreement, sorted Reg4(+) DCS cells promote organoid formation of single Lgr5(+) colon stem cells. DCS cells can be massively produced from Lgr5(+) colon stem cells in vitro by combined Notch inhibition and Wnt activation. We conclude that Reg4(+) DCS cells serve as Paneth cell equivalents in the colon crypt niche.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E5399-E5407
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number37
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2016


  • intestinal stem cell
  • niche
  • Lgr5
  • Reg4
  • deep crypt secretory cells


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