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Cell Rep. 2013 Apr 25;3(4):1128-39. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2013.02.031. Epub 2013 Mar 28.

ER stress causes rapid loss of intestinal epithelial stemness through activation of the unfolded protein response.

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Tytgat Institute for Liver and Intestinal Research and Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Academic Medical Center, 1105 AZ Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


Stem cells generate rapidly dividing transit-amplifying cells that have lost the capacity for self-renewal but cycle for a number of times until they exit the cell cycle and undergo terminal differentiation. We know very little of the type of signals that trigger the earliest steps of stem cell differentiation and mediate a stem cell to transit-amplifying cell transition. We show that in normal intestinal epithelium, endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress and activity of the unfolded protein response (UPR) are induced at the transition from stem cell to transit-amplifying cell. Induction of ER stress causes loss of stemness in a Perk-eIF2α-dependent manner. Inhibition of Perk-eIF2α signaling results in stem cell accumulation in organoid culture of primary intestinal epithelium. Our findings show that the UPR plays an important role in the regulation of intestinal epithelial stem cell differentiation.

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