Regulation of adult intestinal epithelial stem cell development by thyroid hormone during Xenopus laevis metamorphosis



During amphibian metamorphosis, most or all of the larval intestinal epithelial cells undergo apoptosis. In contrast, stem cells of yet-unknown origin actively proliferate and, under the influence of the connective tissue, differentiate into the adult epithelium analogous to the mammalian counterpart. Thus, amphibian intestinal remodeling is useful for studying the stem cell niche, the clarification of which is urgently needed for regenerative therapies. This review highlights the molecular aspects of the niche using the Xenopus laevis intestine as a model. Because amphibian metamorphosis is completely controlled by thyroid hormone (TH), the analysis of TH response genes serves as a powerful means for clarifying its molecular mechanisms. Although functional analysis of the genes is still on the way, recent progresses in organ culture and transgenic studies have gradually uncovered important roles of cell–cell and cell–extracellular matrix interactions through stromelysin-3 and sonic hedgehog/bone morphogenetic protein-4 signaling pathway in the epithelial stem cell development. Developmental Dynamics 236:3358–3368, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.