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1.  Intestinal stem cells remain viable after prolonged tissue storage 
Cell and tissue research  2013;354(2):10.1007/s00441-013-1674-y.
Intestinal stem cells (ISCs) are responsible for renewal of the epithelium both during normal homeostasis and following injury. As such they have significant therapeutic potential. However, it is unknown whether ISCs can survive tissue storage. We hypothesized that, although the majority of epithelial cells may die, ISCs would remain viable for at least 24 h at 4°C. To explore this hypothesis, jejuni of C57Bl6/J or Lgr5-LacZ mice were removed and either processed immediately or placed in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) at 4°C. Delayed isolations of epithelia were performed after 24, 30, or 48 h storage. At the light microscope level, despite extensive apoptosis of villus epithelial cells, small intestinal crypts remained morphologically intact through 30 h and ISCs were identifiable via Lgr5-LacZ positivity. Electron microscopy showed that ISCs retain high integrity through 24 h. When assessed by flow cytometry, ISCs were more resistant to degeneration than the rest of the epithelium, including neighboring Paneth cells, with higher viability across all time points. Culture of isolated crypts showed no loss of capacity to form complex enteroids after 24 h tissue storage, with efficiencies after 7 days of culture remaining above 80%. By 30 h storage, efficiencies declined but budding capability was retained. We conclude that, with delay in isolation, ISCs remain viable and retain their proliferative capacity. In contrast, the remainder of the epithelium, including the Paneth cells, exhibits degeneration and programmed cell death. If these findings are recapitulated with human tissue, storage at 4°C may offer a valuable temporal window for harvest of crypts or ISCs for therapeutic application.
PMCID: PMC3812345  PMID: 23820734
Intestinal stem cells; light and electron microscopy; viability; resistance to storage; enteroid culture
2.  CD24 and CD44 mark human intestinal epithelial cell populations with characteristics of active and facultative stem cells 
Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2013;31(9):2024-2030.
Recent seminal studies have rapidly advanced the understanding of intestinal epithelial stem cell (IESC) biology in murine models. However, the lack of techniques suitable for isolation and subsequent downstream analysis of IESCs from human tissue has hindered the application of these findings toward the development of novel diagnostics and therapies with direct clinical relevance. This study demonstrates that the cluster of differentiation genes CD24 and CD44 are differentially expressed across LGR5 positive “active” stem cells as well as HOPX positive “facultative” stem cells. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting enables differential enrichment of LGR5 cells (CD24−/CD44+) and HOPX (CD24+/CD44+) cells for gene expression analysis and culture. These findings provide the fundamental methodology and basic cell surface signature necessary for isolating and studying intestinal stem cell populations in human physiology and disease.
PMCID: PMC3783577  PMID: 23553902
3.  Isolation and Characterization of Intestinal Stem Cells Based on Surface Marker Combinations and Colony-Formation Assay 
Gastroenterology  2013;145(2):383-95.e1-21.
Identification of intestinal stem cells (ISCs) has relied heavily on the use of transgenic reporters in mice, but this approach is limited by mosaic expression patterns and difficult to directly apply to human tissues. We sought to identify reliable surface markers of ISCs and establish a robust functional assay to characterize ISCs from mouse and human tissues.
We used immunohistochemistry, real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction, and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) to analyze intestinal epithelial cells isolated from mouse and human intestinal tissues. We compared different combinations of surface markers among ISCs isolated based on expression of Lgr5–green fluorescent protein. We developed a culture protocol to facilitate the identification of functional ISCs from mice and then tested the assay with human intestinal crypts and putative ISCs.
CD44+CD24loCD166+ cells, isolated by FACS from mouse small intestine and colon, expressed high levels of stem cell–associated genes. Transit-amplifying cells and progenitor cells were then excluded based on expression of GRP78 or c-Kit. CD44+CD24loCD166+ GRP78lo/− putative stem cells from mouse small intestine included Lgr5-GFPhi and Lgr5-GFPmed/lo cells. Incubation of these cells with the GSK inhibitor CHIR99021 and the E-cadherin stabilizer Thiazovivin resulted in colony formation by 25% to 30% of single-sorted ISCs.
We developed a culture protocol to identify putative ISCs from mouse and human tissues based on cell surface markers. CD44+CD24loCD166+, GRP78lo/−, and c-Kit− facilitated identification of putative stem cells from the mouse small intestine and colon, respectively. CD44+CD24−/loCD166+ also identified putative human ISCs. These findings will facilitate functional studies of mouse and human ISCs.
PMCID: PMC3781924  PMID: 23644405
Stemness; Differentiation; Single-Cell Sorting; Flow Cytometry Analysis
4.  Intestinal Crypts Reproducibly Expand in Culture 
The Journal of surgical research  2012;178(1):48-54.
In vitro growth techniques for intestinal crypts and single intestinal stem cells have been recently described, but several questions of translational importance remain unaddressed. The purpose of this study was to: first, evaluate if intestinal crypts reproducibly expand in vitro; second, determine the impact of age and region of intestine on crypt growth in vitro; and third, determine the effects of cryopreservation on crypt growth in vitro.
Methods and Materials
Crypts were harvested, from 5 cm of proximal, middle and distal small intestine of C57BL/6J mice aged 4wk, 6-8wk, 12-14wk, and 18-20wk (n = 4-6 animals), and cultured. For each region, we determined the efficiency of crypts forming enterospheres (Day 1), and progressing to enteroids (Day 7). Subsequently, enteroids were passaged and cryopreserved to determine if growth was changed by these manipulations.
43-99% of intestinal crypts formed enterospheres, with higher efficiency in proximal small intestine and in younger mice. 25-64% of enterospheres progressed to budding enteroids within 7 days. In vitro expansion was greater in proximal enteroids. This expansion continued in a logarithmic fashion, with ~97% replating efficiency of isolated enteroid crypt buds. Following cryopreservation, ~90% of enteroids recovered normal proliferative capacity.
Intestinal crypt culture is efficient and significantly expands intestinal tissue in a reproducible manner. Regional and age growth differences may reflect distinct stem cell characteristics or differences in support cells. The ability to culture and expand intestinal tissue in vitro provides a potential translational approach toward understanding and treating patients with short bowel syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3654833  PMID: 22564827
small intestine; enteroid; organoid; crypt; in vitro; intestinal stem cell
5.  Heterogeneity of breast cancer stem cells as evidenced with Notch-dependent and Notch-independent populations 
Cancer Medicine  2012;1(2):105-113.
Studies have suggested the potential importance of Notch signaling to the cancer stem cell population in some tumors, but it is not known whether all cells in the cancer stem cell fraction require Notch activity. To address this issue, we blocked Notch activity in MCF-7 cells by expressing a dominant-negative MAML-GFP (dnMAML) construct, which inhibits signaling through all Notch receptors, and quantified the effect on tumor-initiating activity. Inhibition of Notch signaling reduced primary tumor sphere formation and side population. Functional quantification of tumor-initiating cell numbers in vivo showed a significant decrease, but not a complete abrogation, of these cells in dnMAML-expressing cells. Interestingly, when assessed in secondary assays in vitro or in vivo, there was no difference in tumor-initiating activity between the dnMAML-expressing cells and control cells. The fact that a subpopulation of dnMAML-expressing cells was capable of forming primary and secondary tumors indicates that there are Notch-independent tumor-initiating cells in the breast cancer cell line MCF-7. Our findings thus provide direct evidence for a heterogeneous cancer stem cell pool, which will require combination therapies against multiple oncogenic pathways to eliminate the tumor-initiating cell population.
PMCID: PMC3544441  PMID: 23342261
Breast cancer; cancer stem cells; dominant-negative MAML; MCF-7; Notch
6.  TRAF6 is an amplified oncogene bridging the RAS and NF-κB pathways in human lung cancer  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(10):4095-4105.
Somatic mutations and copy number alterations (as a result of deletion or amplification of large portions of a chromosome) are major drivers of human lung cancers. Detailed analysis of lung cancer–associated chromosomal amplifications could identify novel oncogenes. By performing an integrative cytogenetic and gene expression analysis of non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines and tumors, we report here the identification of a frequently recurring amplification at chromosome 11 band p13. Within this region, only TNF receptor–associated factor 6 (TRAF6) exhibited concomitant mRNA overexpression and gene amplification in lung cancers. Inhibition of TRAF6 in human lung cancer cell lines suppressed NF-κB activation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor formation. In these lung cancer cell lines, RAS required TRAF6 for its oncogenic capabilities. Furthermore, TRAF6 overexpression in NIH3T3 cells resulted in NF-κB activation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor formation. Our findings show that TRAF6 is an oncogene that is important for RAS-mediated oncogenesis and provide a mechanistic explanation for the previously apparent importance of constitutive NF-κB activation in RAS-driven lung cancers.
PMCID: PMC3195480  PMID: 21911935

Results 1-6 (6)