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Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(3), 738;

The Coordinated Activities of nAChR and Wnt Signaling Regulate Intestinal Stem Cell Function in Mice

Suntory Foundation for Life Sciences, Bioorganic Research Institute, Kyoto 619-0284, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 13 February 2018 / Revised: 27 February 2018 / Accepted: 3 March 2018 / Published: 5 March 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cell Growth Regulation)
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Cholinergic signaling, which modulates cell activities via nicotinic and muscarinic acetylcholine receptors (n- and mAChRs) in response to internal or external stimuli, has been demonstrated in mammalian non-neuronal cells that synthesize acetylcholine (ACh). One of the major pathways of excitatory transmission in the enteric nervous system (ENS) is mediated by cholinergic transmission, with the transmitter ACh producing excitatory potentials in postsynaptic effector cells. In addition to ACh-synthesizing and ACh-metabolizing elements in the ENS, the presence of non-neuronal ACh machinery has been reported in epithelial cells of the small and large intestines of rats and humans. However, little is known about how non-neuronal ACh controls physiological function in the intestine. Here, experiments using crypt–villus organoids that lack nerve and immune cells in culture suggest that endogenous ACh is synthesized in the intestinal epithelium to drive organoid growth and differentiation through activation of nAChRs. Treatment of organoids with nicotine enhanced cell growth and the expression of marker genes for stem and epithelial cells. On the other hand, the nAChR antagonist mecamylamine strongly inhibited the growth and differentiation of organoids, suggesting the involvement of nAChRs in the regulation of proliferation and differentiation of Lgr5-positive stem cells. More specifically, RNA sequencing analysis revealed that Wnt5a expression was dramatically upregulated after nicotine treatment, and Wnt5a rescued organoid growth and differentiation in response to mecamylamine. Taken together, our results indicate that coordinated activities of nAChR and Wnt signaling maintain Lgr5-positive stem cell activity and balanced differentiation. Furthermore, we could clearly separate the two groups, neuronal ACh in the ENS and non-neuronal ACh in the intestinal epithelium. Dysfunction of the non-neuronal cholinergic system is involved in the pathogenesis of disease. The data will increase our understanding of the cholinergic properties of non-neuronal cells and lead to optimization of drug therapy. View Full-Text
Keywords: nAChRs; non-neuronal ACh; organoid; Wnt5a; intestinal stem cells nAChRs; non-neuronal ACh; organoid; Wnt5a; intestinal stem cells

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Takahashi, T.; Shiraishi, A.; Murata, J. The Coordinated Activities of nAChR and Wnt Signaling Regulate Intestinal Stem Cell Function in Mice. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19, 738.

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