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ISX-9 manipulates endocrine progenitor fate revealing conserved intestinal lineages in mouse and human organoids

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-173
Number of pages17
JournalMolecular Metabolism
Early online date17 Feb 2020
Accepted/In press21 Jan 2020
E-pub ahead of print17 Feb 2020
Published30 Apr 2020


  • ISX-9 paper_FINAL after REVISION

    ISX_Molecular_metabolism_FINAL_after_REVISION_1.docx, 216 KB, application/vnd.openxmlformats-officedocument.wordprocessingml.document

    Uploaded date:23 Jan 2020

    Version:Accepted author manuscript

King's Authors


Objective: Enteroendocrine cells (EECs) survey the gut luminal environment and co-ordinate hormonal, immune and neuronal responses to it. They exhibit well characterised physiological roles ranging from the control of local gut function to whole body metabolism, but little is known regarding the regulatory networks controlling their differentiation, especially in human gut. The small molecule Isoxazole-9 (ISX-9) has been shown to stimulate neuronal and pancreatic beta-cell differentiation, both closely related to EEC differentiation. Our aim was to use ISX-9 as a tool to explore EEC differentiation.
Methods: We investigated the effects of ISX-9 on EEC differentiation in mouse and human intestinal organoids, using real time quantitative PCR, fluorescent activated cell sorting, immunostaining and single cell RNA sequencing.
Results: ISX-9 increased the number of neurogenin3-RFP (Ngn3) positive endocrine progenitor cells and upregulated NeuroD1 and Pax4, transcription factors which play roles in mouse EEC specification. Single cell analysis revealed induction of Pax4 expression in a developmentally late Ngn3+ population of cells and potentiation of genes associated with progenitors biased towards serotonin-producing enterochromaffin (EC) cells. This coincided with enrichment of organoids with functional EC cells which was partly dependent on stimulation of calcium signalling in a population of cells residing outside the crypt base. Inducible Pax4 overexpression, in ileal organoids, uncovered its importance as a component of early human endocrine specification and highlighted the potential existence of two major endocrine lineages, the early appearing enterochromaffin lineage and the later developing peptidergic lineage which contains classical gut hormone cell types.
Conclusion: Our data provide proof-of-concept for the controlled manipulation of specific endocrine lineages with small molecules, whilst also shedding new light on human EEC differentiation and its similarity to mouse. Given their diverse roles, understanding endocrine lineage plasticity and its control could have multiple therapeutic implications.

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