A Tale from the Crypts

Science's STKE  16 Mar 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 224, pp. tw101-TW101
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2242004TW101

Proper patterning of the gastrointestinal tract requires signaling interactions between the gut epithelium and the adjacent mesoderm. In a study of transgenic mice, Haramis et al. identified the expression of bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)-4 in the mesenchyme as a critical factor in this cross talk, with a particular role in maintaining the intestinal crypt-villus axis. When BMP signaling was inhibited, numerous ectopic crypts formed at right angles to the normal axis. These intestinal abnormalities resemble those seen in the cancer predisposition disorder juvenile polyposis and thus underscore the important role of mesenchymal-epithelial communication in cancer development.

A.-P. G. Haramis, H. Begthel, M. van den Born, J. van Es, S. Jonkheer, G. J. A. Offerhaus, H. Clevers, De novo crypt formation and juvenile polyposis on BMP inhibition in mouse intestine. Science 303, 1684-1686 (2004). [Abstract] [Full Text]