A lymphatic-stem cell interactome regulates intestinal stem cell activity

Niec RE, Chu T, Gur-Cohen S, Schernthanner M, Hidalgo L, Pasolli HA, Kataru RP, Mehrara BJ, Pe’er D, Fuchs E.
Preprint from
30 January 2022


Barrier epithelia depend on resident stem cells for homeostasis, defense and repair. Intestinal stem cells (ISCs) of the small and large intestines respond to their local microenvironments (niches) to fulfill a continuous demand for tissue turnover, yet the complexity of their niches is still unfolding. Here, we report an extensive lymphatic network that intimately associates with ISCs within these niches. Devising a lymphatic:organoid coculture system, we show that lymphatic-secreted factors maintain ISCs while inhibiting precocious differentiation. Employing a new deconvolution algorithm, BayesPrism, to pair single-cell and spatial transcriptomics, we cartograph the lymphatic ligand:ISC receptor interactomes at high resolution. We unearth crypt lymphatics as a major source of WNT-signaling factors (WNT2, R-SPONDIN-3) known to drive ISC behavior, and REELIN, a hitherto unappreciated ISC regulator secreted by crypt lymphatics. Together, our studies expose lymphatics as a central hub for niche factors that govern the regenerative potential of ISCs.