BMAL1 and MEX3A co-regulate intestinal stem cell succession

Chang F, Wang C, Chou Y, Chen T, Wu Y, Sridharan S, Hsu P, Hwang-Verslues WW.
Preprint from
10 March 2022


Chemotherapeutic agents, such as 5-fluorouracil (5-FU), often induce intestinal mucositis due to toxicity to rapidly dividing intestinal stem cells (ISCs). Drug delivery at different times of day can alter 5-FU toxicity; however, the underlying biology is unclear. We found that homeostasis and succession between two ISC types, fast proliferating Lgr5 + crypt base columnar (CBC) cells and stress-resistant +4 cells (Bmi1 + ), are controlled by the circadian clock transcription factor BMAL1 and the BMAL1-regulated RNA-binding protein MEX3A via both direct transcriptional regulation and post-transcriptional control of Lgr5 mRNA stability. Bmal1 knockout in Lgr5 + CBCs reduced MEX3A expression and CBC numbers but increased Bmi1 expression in the crypts. Timing 5-FU delivery when crypt cells had low Lgr5 but peak level of Bmi1 protected ISCs from apoptosis. Together, these findings identify a novel role of BMAL1 in ISC homeostasis and provide a biological explanation for chronotherapeutic chemoprotection.