Adult mammalian stem cells: the role of Wnt, Lgr5 and R-spondins

J. Schuijers, H. Clevers

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

182 Citations (Scopus)


After its discovery as oncogen and morphogen, studies on Wnt focused initially on its role in animal development. With the finding that the colorectal tumour suppressor gene APC is a negative regulator of the Wnt pathway in (colorectal) cancer, attention gradually shifted to the study of the role of Wnt signalling in the adult. The first indication that adult Wnt signalling controls stem cells came from a Tcf4 knockout experiment: mutant mice failed to build crypt stem cell compartments. This observation was followed by similar findings in multiple other tissues. Recent studies have indicated that Wnt agonists of the R-spondin family provide potent growth stimuli for crypts in vivo and in vitro. Independently, Lgr5 was found as an exquisite marker for these crypt stem cells. The story has come full circle with the finding that the stem cell marker Lgr5 constitutes the receptor for R-spondins and occurs in complex with Frizzled/Lrp.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2685-2696
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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