Colorectal Cancer : The Notch Gene Plays a Key Role in Intestinal Development, Promising Therapeutic Perspectives and new Insights into Carcinogenesis
Histological analysis of human intestinal tissue Lumenal side (mucosa) covered with epithelium and its villi. Photo credit: X. Sastre / Institut Curie
Quand Notch est “allumé en permanence” In this intestinal mucosa section of newborn mice, stem cells and progenitor cells appear in green. Left picture: In the intestine of normal mouse, stem cells and progenitor cells are localised at the base of the villi. Right picture: in mouse where Notch is permanently switch on, stem cells and progenitor cells spread all along the villi because of their excessive proliferation. Photo credit: S. Fre / Institut Curie
Through a long-standing collaboration, Spyros Artavanis-Tsakonas and his group in Boston and Daniel Louvard’s CNRS team at the Institut Curie have discovered that the Notch gene plays a key role in intestinal development. Notch maintains the balance between stem cells and differentiated cells in the intestinal epithelium, thereby playing an essential function in renewal of intestinal tissue.
At the same time the group of Hans Clevers in the Netherlands, in collaboration with Daniel Louvard’s team, has shown that blocking Notch activity forces cellular differentiation in the mouse intestine and reduces the growth of polyps, the precursors of colorectal tumors.
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