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    The intestinal epithelium is highly regenerative. Rapidly proliferating LGR5+ crypt base columnar (CBC) cells are responsible for epithelial turnover needed to maintain intestinal homeostasis. Upon tissue damage, loss of LGR5+ CBCs can be compensated by activation of quiescent +4 intestinal stem cells (ISCs) or early progenitor cells to restore intestinal regeneration. LGR5+ CBC self-renewal and ISC conversion to LGR5+ cells are regulated by external signals originating from the ISC niche. In contrast, little is known about intrinsic regulatory mechanisms critical for maintenance of LGR5+ CBC homeostasis. We found that LGR5 expression in intestinal crypt cells is controlled by the circadian core clock gene BMAL1 and the BMAL1-regulated RNA-binding protein MEX3A. BMAL1 directly activated transcription of Mex3a. MEX3A in turn bound to and stabilized Lgr5 mRNA. Bmal1 depletion reduced Mex3a and Lgr5 expression and led to increased ferroptosis, which consequently decreased LGR5+ CBC numbers and increased the number of crypt cells expressing +4 ISC marker BMI1. Together, these findings reveal a BMAL1-centered intrinsic regulatory pathway that maintains LGR5 expression in the crypt cells and suggest a potential mechanism contributing to ISC homeostasis. © 2023. Springer Nature Limited.


    Li-Tzu Cheng, Grace Y T Tan, Fang-Pei Chang, Cheng-Kai Wang, Yu-Chi Chou, Pang-Hung Hsu, Wendy W Hwang-Verslues. Core clock gene BMAL1 and RNA-binding protein MEX3A collaboratively regulate Lgr5 expression in intestinal crypt cells. Scientific reports. 2023 Oct 16;13(1):17597

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    PMID: 37845346

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