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New type of secretory cell in the intestine

Date:
March 9, 2011
Source:
Rockefeller University Press
Summary:
The intestinal epithelium consists of four main specialized cell lineages: absorptive enterocytes and three secretory cell types known as enteroendocrine, Paneth, and goblet cells. But a rare, fifth type of intestinal cell called tuft cells also exists. Defined by the thick brush of long microvilli that project from their apical surface, tuft cells are seen in several epithelial tissues, yet little is known about their function due to a lack of tuft cell-specific markers.

Gerbe et al. define tuft cells as a new secretory lineage in the intestine. These rare cells can be distinguished from the four other main cell types of the intestinal epithelium by their co-expression of SOX9 (red) and COX1 (green). Microtubules are shown in white.
Credit: Franηois Gerbe

The intestinal epithelium consists of four main specialized cell lineages: absorptive enterocytes and three secretory cell types known as enteroendocrine, Paneth, and goblet cells. But a rare, fifth type of intestinal cell called tuft cells also exists. Defined by the thick brush of long microvilli that project from their apical surface, tuft cells are seen in several epithelial tissues, yet little is known about their function due to a lack of tuft cell-specific markers.

In the March 7 issue of The Journal of Cell Biology, a team of French researchers led by Philippe Jay identified a unique "signature" of proteins expressed by tuft cells. Like other intestinal cell types, tuft cells turned over rapidly and were replaced by the differentiation of proliferative stem cells' progeny in the intestinal crypts. This differentiation was blocked in the absence of ATOH1 -- a transcription factor required for the development of all intestinal secretory lineages. Yet tuft cell differentiation didn't require other transcription factors that specify enteroendocrine, Paneth, and goblet cells, suggesting that tuft cells represent a distinct lineage of intestinal secretory cells.

The team found that tuft cells secrete opioids and produce enzymes that synthesize prostaglandins. The latter observation suggests that tuft cells may promote inflammation and tumorigenesis. Indeed, the researchers identified tuft cell-like cells in several early stage intestinal tumors. To really understand tuft cells' function, however, Jay hopes to identify transcription factors uniquely required for their development in order to generate mice that specifically lack tuft cells from their intestinal epithelium.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University Press. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gerbe, F., et al. Distinct ATOH1 and Neurog3 requirements define tuft cells as a new secretory cell type in the intestinal epithelium. J. Cell Biol., vol. 192 no. 5 767-780 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201010127

Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University Press. "New type of secretory cell in the intestine." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 March 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110307124516.htm>.
Rockefeller University Press. (2011, March 9). New type of secretory cell in the intestine. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110307124516.htm
Rockefeller University Press. "New type of secretory cell in the intestine." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110307124516.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

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