Self-renewal and differentiation in intestinal stem cells (PIN_F17DTP1)

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Graduate Office


The intestinal epithelium is formed by a continuous monolayer of epithelial cells with crypts or invaginations into the mucosa and in the small intestine protrusions or villi towards the lumen. Intestinal stem cells are located at the base of the crypts and they are the driving force behind the continuous renewal of the intestinal epithelium. Recent experimental research has generated fundamental insight into the biology of stem cells during homeostasis. However, it has also revealed important questions concerning their proliferation and ability to replace each other. The purpose of this project is to integrate analytical and computational models with experimental work to advance our understanding of the behaviour of the stem cell population in a healthy GI tract and help to quantify loss of homeostasis in disease.


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Description My focus is on specialised sensory cells in the intestine called enteroendocrine cells. These cells produce and secrete hormones such as GLP-1 which induces the release of insulin from the pancreas, thus controlling blood glucose levels. I'm am in particular interested in the interaction of these specialised hormone-producing cells (enteroendocrine cells) with the gut bacteria. So far I have found that gut microbiota have a marked effect on the number of enteroendocrine cells in the intestine. In the absence of any gut bacteria, the number of enteroendocrine cells are significantly increased. We are yet to determine whether there is also an increase in hormone secretion associated with this.
We also show that colonisation with a commensal bacteria reduces the number of enteroendocrine cells in the intestine.
Exploitation Route In developing potential therapies and drugs for control of human diseases, such as diabetes where insulin secretion is controlled by the hormone GLP-1 secreted in the intestine by specialised enteroendocrine cells.
Sectors Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description Enteroendocrine cells/GF/Bacteriodes 
Organisation Queen Mary University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provided germ-free, SPF and Bt colonised mice tissue
Collaborator Contribution Shared protocols for hormone secretion assays.
Impact Not multi-disciplinary.
Start Year 2019
Description School visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact School visit to explain about microbes. A short presentation preformed to explain what microbes are, what they are used for, the good/bad ones, followed by microbe related games.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020