Identification of Quiescent LGR5+ Stem Cells in the Human Colon

Keiko Ishikawa, Shinya Sugimoto, Mayumi Oda, Masayuki Fujii, Sirirat Takahashi, Yuki Ohta, Ai Takano, Kazuhiro Ishimaru, Mami Matano, Kosuke Yoshida, Hikaru Hanyu, Kohta Toshimitsu, Kazuaki Sawada, Mariko Shimokawa, Megumu Saito, Kenta Kawasaki, Ryota Ishii, Koji Taniguchi, Takeshi Imamura, Takanori KanaiToshiro Sato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Background & Aims: In the mouse intestinal epithelium, Lgr5+ stem cells are vulnerable to injury, owing to their predominantly cycling nature, and their progenies de-differentiate to replenish the stem cell pool. However, how human colonic stem cells behave in homeostasis and during regeneration remains unknown. Methods: Transcriptional heterogeneity among colonic epithelial cells was analyzed by means of single-cell RNA sequencing analysis of human and mouse colonic epithelial cells. To trace the fate of human colonic stem or differentiated cells, we generated LGR5-tdTomato, LGR5-iCasase9-tdTomato, LGR5-split-Cre, and KRT20-ERCreER knock-in human colon organoids via genome engineering. p27+ dormant cells were further visualized with the p27-mVenus reporter. To analyze the dynamics of human colonic stem cells in vivo, we orthotopically xenotransplanted fluorescence-labeled human colon organoids into immune-deficient mice. The cell cycle dynamics in xenograft cells were evaluated using 5-ethynyl-2′-deoxyuridine pulse-chase analysis. The clonogenic capacity of slow-cycling human stem cells or differentiated cells was analyzed in the context of homeostasis, LGR5 ablation, and 5-fluorouracil–induced mucosal injury. Results: Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis illuminated the presence of nondividing LGR5+ stem cells in the human colon. Visualization and lineage tracing of slow-cycling LGR5+p27+ cells and orthotopic xenotransplantation validated their homeostatic lineage-forming capability in vivo, which was augmented by 5-FU–induced mucosal damage. Transforming growth factor–β signaling regulated the quiescent state of LGR5+ cells. Despite the plasticity of differentiated KRT20+ cells, they did not display clonal growth after 5-FU–induced injury, suggesting that occupation of the niche environment by LGR5+p27+ cells prevented neighboring differentiated cells from de-differentiating. Conclusions: Our results highlight the quiescent nature of human LGR5+ colonic stem cells and their contribution to post-injury regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1391-1406.e24
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Nov


  • Intestinal Stem Cell
  • Organoids
  • Slow-Cycling Stem Cell
  • TGF-β Signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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