Leushacke, M., Tan, S., Wong, A. et al. Lgr5-expressing chief cells drive epithelial regeneration and cancer in the oxyntic stomach. Nat Cell Biol 19, 774–786 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/ncb3541
The daily renewal of the corpus epithelium is fuelled by adult stem cells residing within tubular glands, but the identity of these stem cells remains controversial. Lgr5 marks homeostatic stem cells and ‘reserve’ stem cells in multiple tissues. Here, we report Lgr5 expression in a subpopulation of chief cells in mouse and human corpus glands. Using a non-variegated Lgr5-2A-CreERT2 mouse model, we show by lineage tracing that Lgr5-expressing chief cells do not behave as corpus stem cells during homeostasis, but are recruited to function as stem cells to effect epithelial renewal following injury by activating Wnt signalling. Ablation of Lgr5+ cells severely impairs epithelial homeostasis in the corpus, indicating an essential role for these Lgr5+ cells in maintaining the homeostatic stem cell pool. We additionally define Lgr5+ chief cells as a major cell-of-origin of gastric cancer. These findings reveal clinically relevant insights into homeostasis, repair and cancer in the corpus.
National Research Foundation (NRF) NRFI2017-03, Singapore Gastric Cancer Consortium (SGCC), Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A∗STAR), National Medical Research Council (NMRC) Singapore.