Intestinal stem cells constantly renew the cells lining our guts, striking a delicate balance to replenish stocks without over-producing daughter cells. Part of the machinery controlling this system is a gene known as Gpr182. Scientists located the Gpr182 protein on the surface of several mouse organs, but especially in stem cells in their intestine (pictured in cross section). While its exact function is still unclear, it seems to play a role in regulating the production of new cells: blocking Gpr182 causes stem cells to make more intestinal daughters, suggesting that it normally acts to prevent cancerous over-proliferation. Tantalisingly, Gpr182 is also less active in tissues from patients with colon, breast and lung cancers than in healthy individuals, so this gene may be similarly important in humans, making it an interesting drug target for future cancer treatments.
Written by Emmanuelle Briolat
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