University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Dr. Henning’s lab has a longstanding interest in intestinal epithelial stem cells (ISCs), with particular focus on their behavior during times of epithelial expansion (e.g. during development, after surgical resection, and after damage). With a view of human application, they have pioneered methods for isolation of ISCs from non-reporter (i.e. wild type) mice. Their early work using side population (SP) sorting (Dekaney et al. 2005) was the first successful generation of a fraction enriched in ISCs. Subsequently microarray analysis of intestinal SP cells (Gulati et al. 2008) led to the identification of CD24 as a membrane marker for ISCs and sorting with antibodies to CD24 yielded a fraction highly enriched in actively-dividing ISC (von Furstenberg et al. 2011). More recently, Dr. Henning’s lab has returned to SP sorting because of our discovery that fractionation of the SP into upper-SP and lower-SP yields distinct populations of active ISCs and quiescent ISCs respectively (von Furstenberg et al. 2013). Current work focuses on characterization of the latter population and falls into two main areas: a) Identification of factors responsible for the activation after cytotoxic damage to the epithelium; and b) the development of a culture system which recapitulates the in vivo behavior of these cells.