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Failure to Divide

Protein called MLL1 is vital for maintaining the cells essential for renewing the gut lining

22 March 2022

Failure to Divide

The cells that line our intestines need to be replaced every five days so that we can continue to absorb all the nutrients from our food. Intestinal stem cells are responsible for this replacement. They are found at the base of villi – the finger-like structures seen in the right-hand column in these specially stained sections of mouse gut. As the stem cells divide they slowly push new cells up, like a conveyor belt, replacing old cells with newer ones. For a healthy gut, it’s critical that this stem cell population is maintained. MLL1 is a protein that’s required for this maintenance. Without it (bottom), stem cells can’t divide as efficiently, as shown by the brown staining, which leads to a reduction in goblet cells (blue staining in the right column) which are a primary site for nutrient digestion. This quickly leads to intestinal failure.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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