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Thyroid hormone-induced cell-cell interactions are required for the development of adult intestinal stem cells

Takashi Hasebe1, Liezhen Fu2, Thomas C Miller2, Yu Zhang2, Yun-Bo Shi2* and Atsuko Ishizuya-Oka1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, Nippon Medical School, 2-297-2 Nakahara-ku, Kosugi-cho, Kawasaki, Kanagawa, 211-0063, Japan

2 Section on Molecular Morphogenesis, Program in Cellular Regulation and Metabolism (PCRM), Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, 20892, USA

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Cell & Bioscience 2013, 3:18  doi:10.1186/2045-3701-3-18

Published: 1 April 2013


The mammalian intestine has long been used as a model to study organ-specific adult stem cells, which are essential for organ repair and tissue regeneration throughout adult life. The establishment of the intestinal epithelial cell self-renewing system takes place during perinatal development when the villus-crypt axis is established with the adult stem cells localized in the crypt. This developmental period is characterized by high levels of plasma thyroid hormone (T3) and T3 deficiency is known to impair intestinal development. Determining how T3 regulates adult stem cell development in the mammalian intestine can be difficult due to maternal influences. Intestinal remodeling during amphibian metamorphosis resembles perinatal intestinal maturation in mammals and its dependence on T3 is well established. A major advantage of the amphibian model is that it can easily be controlled by altering the availability of T3. The ability to manipulate and examine this relatively rapid and localized formation of adult stem cells has greatly assisted in the elucidation of molecular mechanisms regulating their formation and further revealed evidence that supports conservation in the underlying mechanisms of adult stem cell development in vertebrates. Furthermore, genetic studies in Xenopus laevis indicate that T3 actions in both the epithelium and the rest of the intestine, most likely the underlying connective tissue, are required for the formation of adult stem cells. Molecular analyses suggest that cell-cell interactions involving hedgehog and BMP pathways are critical for the establishment of the stem cell niche that is essential for the formation of the adult intestinal stem cells.

Adult organ-specific stem cell; Thyroid hormone receptor; Dedifferentiation; Apoptosis; Metamorphosis; Xenopus laevis and tropicalis; Cell-cell interaction; Matrix metalloproteinase; Extracellular matrix (ECM)