MEX3A regulates Lgr5+ stem cell maintenance in the developing intestinal epithelium

Bruno Pereira, Ana L. Amaral, Alexandre Dias, Nuno Mendes, Vanesa Muncan, Ana R. Silva, Chantal Thibert, Anca G. Radu, Leonor David, Valdemar Máximo, Gijs R. van den Brink, Marc Billaud, Raquel Almeida

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13 Citations (Scopus)


Intestinal stem cells (ISCs) fuel the lifelong self-renewal of the intestinal tract and are paramount for epithelial repair. In this context, the Wnt pathway component LGR5 is the most consensual ISC marker to date. Still, the effort to better understand ISC identity and regulation remains a challenge. We have generated a Mex3a knockout mouse model and show that this RNA-binding protein is crucial for the maintenance of the Lgr5+ ISC pool, as its absence disrupts epithelial turnover during postnatal development and stereotypical organoid maturation ex vivo. Transcriptomic profiling of intestinal crypts reveals that Mex3a deletion induces the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) pathway, along with a decrease in Wnt signalling and loss of the Lgr5+ stem cell signature. Furthermore, we identify PPARγ activity as a molecular intermediate of MEX3A-mediated regulation. We also show that high PPARγ signalling impairs Lgr5+ ISC function, thus uncovering a new layer of post-transcriptional regulation that critically contributes to intestinal homeostasis.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere48938
JournalEMBO reports
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2020


  • LGR5 intestinal stem cells
  • PPARγ pathway
  • RNA-binding protein MEX3A
  • intestinal homeostasis
  • mouse model

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