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Mech Dev. 2001 Mar;101(1-2):3-9.

Stem cells and the regulation of proliferation, differentiation and patterning in the intestinal epithelium: emerging insights from gene expression patterns, transgenic and gene ablation studies.

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Department of Biology and Biochemistry, South Building, University of Bath, BA2 7AY, Bath, UK.


Tissues that undergo self-renewal such as the skin, the haematopoeitic system and the intestine are all maintained and renewed by a small group of multipotent stem cells. The stem cells of the intestinal epithelium are located in the crypts and give rise to its four main lineages located mainly in the finger like projections- the villi. An increasing number of genes are now being identified as either being necessary for or involved in the maintenance of intestinal stem cells and regulating differentiation along the crypt-villus axis. These developmental regulatory genes include among others, Tcf-4, Cdx-1 Fkh6, HFH11 and Nkx2-3. Other genes such as the integrins, and Indian hedgehog (Ihh) also affect function of the progenitor cells of the intestinal epithelium. This mini-review will focus on the more recent data on expression patterns of genes in the intestinal epithelium and the direct or indirect effects of their ablation on proliferation and differentiation.

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