Progastrin production transitions from Bmi1+/Prox1+ to Lgr5+ cells during early intestinal tumorigenesis
Progastrin is an unprocessed soluble peptide precursor with a well-described tumor-promoting role in colorectal cancer. It is expressed at small levels in the healthy intestinal mucosa, and its expression is enhanced at early stages of intestinal tumor development, with high levels of this peptide in hyperplastic intestinal polyps being associated with poor neoplasm-free survival in patients. Yet, the precise type of progastrin-producing cells in the healthy intestinal mucosa and in early adenomas remains unclear. Here, we used a combination of immunostaining, RNAscope labelling and retrospective analysis of single cell RNAseq results to demonstrate that progastrin is produced within intestinal crypts by a subset of Bmi1+/Prox1+/LGR5low endocrine cells, previously shown to act as replacement stem cells in case of mucosal injury. In contrast, our findings indicate that intestinal stem cells, specified by expression of the Wnt signaling target LGR5, become the main source of progastrin production in early mouse and human intestinal adenomas. Collectively our results suggest that the previously identified feed-forward mechanisms between progastrin and Wnt signaling is a hallmark of early neoplastic transformation in mouse and human colonic adenomas.
Transl Oncol. 2020 Dec 22;14(2):101001. doi: 10.1016/j.tranon.2020.101001.