Lrig1 controls intestinal stem-cell homeostasis by negative regulation of ErbB signalling.
Wong VWY., Stange DE., Page ME., Buczacki S., Wabik A., Itami S., van de Wetering M., Poulsom R., Wright NA., Trotter MWB., Watt FM., Winton DJ., Clevers H., Jensen KB.
Maintenance of adult tissues is carried out by stem cells and is sustained throughout life in a highly ordered manner. Homeostasis within the stem-cell compartment is governed by positive- and negative-feedback regulation of instructive extrinsic and intrinsic signals. ErbB signalling is a prerequisite for maintenance of the intestinal epithelium following injury and tumour formation. As ErbB-family ligands and receptors are highly expressed within the stem-cell niche, we hypothesize that strong endogenous regulators must control the pathway in the stem-cell compartment. Here we show that Lrig1, a negative-feedback regulator of the ErbB receptor family, is highly expressed by intestinal stem cells and controls the size of the intestinal stem-cell niche by regulating the amplitude of growth-factor signalling. Intestinal stem-cell maintenance has so far been attributed to a combination of Wnt and Notch activation and Bmpr inhibition. Our findings reveal ErbB activation as a strong inductive signal for stem-cell proliferation. This has implications for our understanding of ErbB signalling in tissue development and maintenance and the progression of malignant disease.