bims-instec Biomed News
on Intestinal stem cells and chemoresistance in colon cancer and intestinal regeneration
Issue of 2023‒06‒25
fourteen papers selected by
Maria-Virginia Giolito
Free University of Brussels

  1. World J Stem Cells. 2023 May 26. 15(5): 354-368
      The mammalian intestinal epithelium constitutes the largest barrier against the external environment and makes flexible responses to various types of stimuli. Epithelial cells are fast-renewed to counteract constant damage and disrupted barrier function to maintain their integrity. The homeostatic repair and regeneration of the intestinal epithelium are governed by the Lgr5+ intestinal stem cells (ISCs) located at the base of crypts, which fuel rapid renewal and give rise to the different epithelial cell types. Protracted biological and physicochemical stress may challenge epithelial integrity and the function of ISCs. The field of ISCs is thus of interest for complete mucosal healing, given its relevance to diseases of intestinal injury and inflammation such as inflammatory bowel diseases. Here, we review the current understanding of the signals and mechanisms that control homeostasis and regeneration of the intestinal epithelium. We focus on recent insights into the intrinsic and extrinsic elements involved in the process of intestinal homeostasis, injury, and repair, which fine-tune the balance between self-renewal and cell fate specification in ISCs. Deciphering the regulatory machinery that modulates stem cell fate would aid in the development of novel therapeutics that facilitate mucosal healing and restore epithelial barrier function.
    Keywords:  Apoptosis; Epithelial repair; Homeostasis; Intestinal stem cell; Regeneration; Self-renewal
  2. Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2023 Jun 23.
      Current understanding of the leucine-rich repeat-containing G protein-coupled receptor 5 (LGR5) in intestinal stem cells (ISCs) is well established, however, the implications of ISC heterogeneity and homeostasis are poorly understood. Prior studies have provided important evidence for the association between heterogeneity of ISC pools with pathogenesis and therapeutic response of malignant disease. Leveraging the advantages of organoids and single cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq), glandular development has been simulated and cell heterogeneity has been clarified. Based on this research, several potential ISCs were identified, such as LGR5 + p27 + quiescent ISCs, LGR5 + Mex3a + slowly proliferating stem cells, and CLU + reverse stem cells. We also illustrated major factors responsible for ISC homeostasis including metabolism-related (LKB1, TGR5, HMGCS2), inflammation-related (IFB-b, IFN2, TNF), and Wnt signaling-related (CREPT, Mex3a, MTG16) factors. ISCs play complex roles in intestinal tumorigenesis, chemoresistance and occasional relapse of colon cancer, which bear discussion. In this review, we focus on novel technical challenges in ISCs fate drawing upon recent research with the goals of clarifying our understanding of complex ISCs, elucidating the integrated intestinal crypt niche, and creating new opportunities for therapeutic development.
    Keywords:  Cancer stem cell; Heterogeneity; Intestinal homeostasis; Intestinal stem cell; LGR5; Stem cell regeneration
  3. Nat Commun. 2023 Jun 23. 14(1): 3745
      Intracellular pH dynamics is increasingly recognized to regulate myriad cell behaviors. We report a finding that intracellular pH dynamics also regulates adult stem cell lineage specification. We identify an intracellular pH gradient in mouse small intestinal crypts, lowest in crypt stem cells and increasing along the crypt column. Disrupting this gradient by inhibiting H+ efflux by Na+/H+ exchanger 1 abolishes crypt budding and blocks differentiation of Paneth cells, which are rescued with exogenous WNT. Using single-cell RNA sequencing and lineage tracing we demonstrate that intracellular pH dynamics acts downstream of ATOH1, with increased pH promoting differentiation toward the secretory lineage. Our findings indicate that an increase in pH is required for the lineage specification that contributes to crypt maintenance, establishing a role for intracellular pH dynamics in cell fate decisions within an adult stem cell lineage.
  4. Growth Factors. 2023 Jun 23. 1-13
      Adoption of organoid/tumoroid propagation of normal and malignant intestinal epithelia has provided unparalleled opportunities to compare cell growth factor and signaling dependencies. These 3D structures recapitulate tumours in terms of gene expression regarding the tumor cells but also allow deeper insights into the contribution of the tumour microenvironment (TME). Elements of the TME can be manipulated or added back in the form of infiltrating cytotoxic lymphocytes and/or cancer associated fibroblasts. The effectiveness of chemo-, radio- and immunotherapies can be explored within weeks of deriving these patient-derived tumour avatars informing treatment of these exact patients in a timely manner. Entrenched paths to colorectal cancer (CRC) from the earliest steps of conventional adenoma or serrated lesion formation, and the recognition of further sub-categorisations embodied by consensus-molecular-subtypes (CMS), provide genetic maps allowing a molecular form of pathologic taxonomy. Recent advances in organoid propagation and scRNAseq are reshaping our understanding of CMS and CRC.
    Keywords:  Colorectal cancer; consensus molecular subtypes; organoids; single cell RNAseq
  5. Cell Rep. 2023 Jun 20. pii: S2211-1247(23)00671-X. [Epub ahead of print]42(7): 112660
      A major cause of intestinal failure (IF) is intestinal epithelium necrosis and massive loss of enterocytes, especially in the jejunum, the major intestinal segment in charge of nutrient absorption. However, mechanisms underlying jejunal epithelial regeneration after extensive loss of enterocytes remain elusive. Here, we apply a genetic ablation system to induce extensive damage to jejunal enterocytes in zebrafish, mimicking the jejunal epithelium necrosis that causes IF. In response to injury, proliferation and filopodia/lamellipodia drive anterior migration of the ileal enterocytes into the injured jejunum. The migrated fabp6+ ileal enterocytes transdifferentiate into fabp2+ jejunal enterocytes to fulfill the regeneration, consisting of dedifferentiation to precursor status followed by redifferentiation. The dedifferentiation is activated by the IL1β-NFκB axis, whose agonist promotes regeneration. Extensive jejunal epithelial damage is repaired by the migration and transdifferentiation of ileal enterocytes, revealing an intersegmental migration mechanism of intestinal regeneration and providing potential therapeutic targets for IF caused by jejunal epithelium necrosis.
    Keywords:  CP: Stem cell research; NF-κB; cell migration; enterocyte regeneration; intestinal failure; jejunum; stem cell; transdifferentiation
  6. STAR Protoc. 2023 Jun 22. pii: S2666-1667(23)00341-6. [Epub ahead of print]4(3): 102374
      Current techniques for producing induced-pluripotent-stem-cell-derived mid/hindgut spheroids have faced major hurdles in consistency and reproducibility. Here, we present a protocol that uses mid/hindgut cells to generate homogeneous spheroids that subsequently mature into human intestinal organoids (HIOs). We describe steps for stepwise differentiation and spheroid formation using a 96-well plate. We then detail cell maturation in a suspended state and the implementation of a rotational bioreactor platform to maximize the culture efficiency of larger HIOs. For complete details on the use and execution of this protocol, please refer to Takahashi et al.1.
    Keywords:  Cell Biology; Cell Differentiation; Cell culture; Organoids; Stem Cells; Tissue Engineering
  7. J Vis Exp. 2023 Jun 02.
      The intestinal epithelium plays an essential role in human health, providing a barrier between the host and the external environment. This highly dynamic cell layer provides the first line of defense between microbial and immune populations and helps to modulate the intestinal immune response. Disruption of the epithelial barrier is a hallmark of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and is of interest for therapeutic targeting. The 3-dimensional colonoid culture system is an extremely useful in vitro model for studying intestinal stem cell dynamics and epithelial cell physiology in IBD pathogenesis. Ideally, establishing colonoids from the inflamed epithelial tissue of animals would be most beneficial in assessing the genetic and molecular influences on disease. However, we have shown that in vivo epithelial changes are not necessarily retained in colonoids established from mice with acute inflammation. To address this limitation, we have developed a protocol to treat colonoids with a cocktail of inflammatory mediators that are typically elevated during IBD. While this system can be applied ubiquitously to various culture conditions, this protocol emphasizes treatment on both differentiated colonoids and 2-dimensional monolayers derived from established colonoids. In a traditional culture setting, colonoids are enriched with intestinal stem cells, providing an ideal environment to study the stem cell niche. However, this system does not allow for an analysis of the features of intestinal physiology, such as barrier function. Further, traditional colonoids do not offer the opportunity to study the cellular response of terminally differentiated epithelial cells to proinflammatory stimuli. The methods presented here provide an alternative experimental framework to address these limitations. The 2-dimensional monolayer culture system also offers an opportunity for therapeutic drug screening ex vivo. This polarized layer of cells can be treated with inflammatory mediators on the basal side of the cell and concomitantly with putative therapeutics apically to determine their utility in IBD treatment.
  8. Chemotherapy. 2023 Jun 19.
      Trifluridine/tipiracil is approved for the use in later or last line setting in previously treated mCRC patients who progressed on standard anti-tumor drugs including 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), Irinotecan, Oxaliplatin, anti-VEGF- and anti-EGFR-antibodies or who are not considered candidates for those standard therapies. In this report, we describe a 67-year old male patient with KRAS-mutated mCRC and metachronous liver and lung metastasis who failed prior 5-fluorouracil- and irinotecan-containing regimens, but then showed long-term disease control for 31 months on single-agent trifluridine/tipiracil given as second-line treatment. According to our experience, trifluridine/tipiracil is a feasible and effective treatment option in earlier but not necessarily last line therapy in mCRC patients who are not considered candidates for doublet or triplet chemotherapy. Besides its efficacy, it is associated with maintained quality of life (QoL) and a manageable toxicity profile. Considering increasing age of mCRC patients and their wish for maintaining an independent life-style, further research on the use of trifluridine/tipiracil in earlier lines of systemic mCRC therapy is warranted.
  9. Lab Chip. 2023 Jun 19.
      The colon serves as a primary target for pharmaceutical compound screening and disease modelling. To better study colon diseases and develop treatments, engineered in vitro models with colon-specific physiological features are required. Existing colon models lack integration of colonic crypt structures with underlying perfusable vasculature, where vascular-epithelial crosstalk is affected by disease progression. We present a colon epithelium barrier model with vascularized crypts that recapitulates relevant cytokine gradients in both healthy and inflammatory conditions. Using our previously published IFlowPlate384 platform, we initially imprinted crypt topography and populated the patterned scaffold with colon cells. Proliferative colon cells spontaneously localized to the crypt niche and differentiated into epithelial barriers with a tight brush border. Toxicity of the colon cancer drug, capecitabine, was tested and showed a dose-dependent response and recovery from crypt-patterned colon epithelium exclusively. Perfusable microvasculature was then incorporated around the colon crypts followed by treatment with pro-inflammatory TNFα and IFNγ cytokines to simulate inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)-like conditions. We observed in vivo-like stromal basal-to-apical cytokine gradients in tissues with vascularized crypts and gradient reversals upon inflammation. Taken together, we demonstrated crypt topography integrated with underlying perfusable microvasculature has significant value for emulating colon physiology and in advanced disease modelling.
  10. World J Stem Cells. 2023 May 26. 15(5): 281-301
      Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains the third most prevalent cancer disease and involves a multi-step process in which intestinal cells acquire malignant characteristics. It is well established that the appearance of distal metastasis in CRC patients is the cause of a poor prognosis and treatment failure. Nevertheless, in the last decades, CRC aggressiveness and progression have been attributed to a specific cell population called CRC stem cells (CCSC) with features like tumor initiation capacity, self-renewal capacity, and acquired multidrug resistance. Emerging data highlight the concept of this cell subtype as a plastic entity that has a dynamic status and can be originated from different types of cells through genetic and epigenetic changes. These alterations are modulated by complex and dynamic crosstalk with environmental factors by paracrine signaling. It is known that in the tumor niche, different cell types, structures, and biomolecules coexist and interact with cancer cells favoring cancer growth and development. Together, these components constitute the tumor microenvironment (TME). Most recently, researchers have also deepened the influence of the complex variety of microorganisms that inhabit the intestinal mucosa, collectively known as gut microbiota, on CRC. Both TME and microorganisms participate in inflammatory processes that can drive the initiation and evolution of CRC. Since in the last decade, crucial advances have been made concerning to the synergistic interaction among the TME and gut microorganisms that condition the identity of CCSC, the data exposed in this review could provide valuable insights into the biology of CRC and the development of new targeted therapies.
    Keywords:  Cancer progression; Colorectal cancer; Colorectal cancer stem cells; Gut microbiota; Tumor microenvironment factors; Tumor stroma
  11. EMBO Rep. 2023 Jun 20. e56416
      Intratumor heterogeneity (ITH) is a barrier to effective therapy. However, it is largely unknown how ITH is established at the onset of tumor progression, such as in colorectal cancer (CRC). Here, we integrate single-cell RNA-seq and functional validation to show that asymmetric division of CRC stem-like cells (CCSC) is critical for early ITH establishment. We find that CCSC-derived xenografts contain seven cell subtypes, including CCSCs, that dynamically change during CRC xenograft progression. Furthermore, three of the subtypes are generated by asymmetric division of CCSCs. They are functionally distinct and appear at the early stage of xenografts. In particular, we identify a chemoresistant and an invasive subtype, and investigate the regulators that control their generation. Finally, we show that targeting the regulators influences cell subtype composition and CRC progression. Our findings demonstrate that asymmetric division of CCSCs contributes to the early establishment of ITH. Targeting asymmetric division may alter ITH and benefit CRC therapy.
    Keywords:  asymmetric division; colorectal cancer; colorectal cancer stem-like cell; tumor heterogeneity
  12. Nature. 2023 Jun 21.
      Sex exerts a profound impact on cancer incidence, spectrum and outcomes, yet the molecular and genetic bases of such sex differences are ill-defined and presumptively ascribed to X-chromosome genes and sex hormones1. Such sex differences are particularly prominent in colorectal cancer (CRC) in which men experience higher metastases and mortality. A murine CRC model, engineered with an inducible transgene encoding oncogenic mutant KRASG12D and conditional null alleles of Apc and Trp53 tumour suppressors (designated iKAP)2, revealed higher metastases and worse outcomes specifically in males with oncogenic mutant KRAS (KRAS*) CRC. Integrated cross-species molecular and transcriptomic analyses identified Y-chromosome gene histone demethylase KDM5D as a transcriptionally upregulated gene driven by KRAS*-mediated activation of the STAT4 transcription factor. KDM5D-dependent chromatin mark and transcriptome changes showed repression of regulators of the epithelial cell tight junction and major histocompatibility complex class I complex components. Deletion of Kdm5d in iKAP cancer cells increased tight junction integrity, decreased cell invasiveness and enhanced cancer cell killing by CD8+ T cells. Conversely, iAP mice engineered with a Kdm5d transgene to provide constitutive Kdm5d expression specifically in iAP cancer cells showed an increased propensity for more invasive tumours in vivo. Thus, KRAS*-STAT4-mediated upregulation of Y chromosome KDM5D contributes substantially to the sex differences in KRAS* CRC by means of its disruption of cancer cell adhesion properties and tumour immunity, providing an actionable therapeutic strategy for metastasis risk reduction for men afflicted with KRAS* CRC.
  13. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2023 Jun 20. 80(7): 185
      DIS3L2 degrades different types of RNAs in an exosome-independent manner including mRNAs and several types of non-coding RNAs. DIS3L2-mediated degradation is preceded by the addition of nontemplated uridines at the 3'end of its targets by the terminal uridylyl transferases 4 and 7. Most of the literature that concerns DIS3L2 characterizes its involvement in several RNA degradation pathways, however, there is some evidence that its dysregulated activity may contribute to cancer development. In the present study, we characterize the role of DIS3L2 in human colorectal cancer (CRC). Using the public RNA datasets from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we found higher DIS3L2 mRNA levels in CRC tissues versus normal colonic samples as well as worse prognosis in patients with high DIS3L2 expression. In addition, our RNA deep-sequencing data revealed that knockdown (KD) of DIS3L2 induces a strong transcriptomic disturbance in SW480 CRC cells. Moreover, gene ontology (GO) analysis of significant upregulated transcripts displays enrichment in mRNAs encoding proteins involved in cell cycle regulation and cancer-related pathways, which guided us to evaluate which specific hallmarks of cancer are differentially regulated by DIS3L2. To do so, we employed four CRC cell lines (HCT116, SW480, Caco-2 and HT-29) differing in their mutational background and oncogenicity. We demonstrate that depletion of DIS3L2 results in reduced cell viability of highly oncogenic SW480 and HCT116 CRC cells, but had little or no impact in the more differentiated Caco-2 and HT-29 cells. Remarkably, the mTOR signaling pathway, crucial for cell survival and growth, is downregulated after DIS3L2 KD, whereas AZGP1, an mTOR pathway inhibitor, is upregulated. Furthermore, our results indicate that depletion of DIS3L2 disturbs metastasis-associated properties, such as cell migration and invasion, only in highly oncogenic CRC cells. Our work reveals for the first time a role for DIS3L2 in sustaining CRC cell proliferation and provides evidence that this ribonuclease is required to support the viability and invasive behavior of dedifferentiated CRC cells.
    Keywords:  AZGP1; Cell migration; Cell viability; Colorectal cancer; DIS3L2; mTOR
  14. Nat Rev Cancer. 2023 Jun 23.
      The interactions among tumour cells, the tumour microenvironment (TME) and non-tumour tissues are of interest to many cancer researchers. Micro-engineering approaches and nanotechnologies are under extensive exploration for modelling these interactions and measuring them in situ and in vivo to investigate therapeutic vulnerabilities in cancer and extend a systemic view of tumour ecosystems. Here we highlight the greatest opportunities for improving the understanding of tumour ecosystems using microfluidic devices, bioprinting or organ-on-a-chip approaches. We also discuss the potential of nanosensors that can transmit information from within the TME or elsewhere in the body to address scientific and clinical questions about changes in chemical gradients, enzymatic activities, metabolic and immune profiles of the TME and circulating analytes. This Review aims to connect the cancer biology and engineering communities, presenting biomedical technologies that may expand the methodologies of the former, while inspiring the latter to develop approaches for interrogating cancer ecosystems.