The intestinal mucosa undergoes a continual process of proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis, which is regulated by multiple signaling pathways. Notch signaling is critical for the control of intestinal stem cell maintenance and differentiation. However, the precise mechanisms involved in the regulation of differentiation are not fully understood. Previously, we have shown that tuberous sclerosis 2 (TSC2) positively regulates the expression of the goblet cell differentiation marker, MUC2, in intestinal cells. Using transgenic mice constitutively expressing a dominant negative TSC2 allele, we observed that TSC2 inactivation increased mTORC1 and Notch activities, and altered differentiation throughout the intestinal epithelium, with a marked decrease in the goblet and Paneth cell lineages. Conversely, treatment of mice with either Notch inhibitor dibenzazepine (DBZ) or mTORC1 inhibitor rapamycin significantly attenuated the reduction of goblet and Paneth cells. Accordingly, knockdown of TSC2 activated, whereas knockdown of mTOR or treatment with rapamycin decreased, the activity of Notch signaling in the intestinal cell line LS174T. Importantly, our findings demonstrate that TSC2/mTORC1 signaling contributes to the maintenance of intestinal epithelium homeostasis by regulating Notch activity.

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Published in Cell Death & Disease, v. 6, article e1631, p. 1-10.

© 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited All rights reserved

Cell Death and Disease is an open-access journal published by Nature Publishing Group. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in the credit line; if the material is not included under the Creative Commons licence, users will need to obtain permission from the licence holder to reproduce the material. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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This work was supported by R01 DK48498 from the National Institutes of Health.

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