Sorting mouse jejunal epithelial cells with CD24 yields a population with characteristics of intestinal stem cells

Richard J. von Furstenberg, Ajay S. Gulati, Anand Baxi, Jason M. Doherty, Thaddeus S. Stappenbeck, Adam D. Gracz, Scott T. Magness, Susan J. Henning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Intestinal stem cells (ISCs) have been studied for more than three decades; however, their isolation has remained a challenge. We hypothesized that, just as for stem cells of other tissues, one or more membrane markers would allow positive selection of ISCs by antibody-based sorting. To explore this hypothesis, microarray data of putative ISC fractions generated by side population sorting and laser capture microdissection were subjected to bioinformatic analysis to identify common membrane antigens. The microarray comparison suggested CD24 as a candidate surface marker, and immunohistochemistry showed expression of CD24 in epithelial cells of crypt bases. Flow cytometry of jejunal epithelial preparations revealed a CD24+ CD45- fraction comprising ~1% of the cells. Analysis with epithelial cell adhesion molecule and CD31 confirmed that the cell preparations were epithelial and without endothelial contamination. Cycling cells identified by prior injection with 5-ethynyl-2 ́-deoxyuridine were found predominantly in the CD24lo subfraction. Transcript analysis by real-time RT-PCR showed this subfraction to be enriched in the ISC markers leucine-rich-repeatcontaining G-protein-coupled receptor 5 (40-fold) and Bmi1 (5-fold), but also enriched in lysozyme (10-fold). Flow cytometry with antilysozyme antibodies demonstrated that Paneth cells comprise ~30% of the CD24lo subfraction. Additional flow analyses with leucine-richrepeat- containing G-protein-coupled receptor 5-enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) epithelium demonstrated colocalization of EGFPhi and CD24lo. In contrast, CD24 cells were negative for the quiescent ISC marker doublecortin and CaM kinase-like-1. Culture of CD24lo cells in Matrigel generated organoid structures, which included all four epithelial lineages, thus giving functional evidence for the presence of ISCs. We conclude that the CD24lo fraction of jejunal epithelium is highly enriched with cycling ISCs. This isolation method should be useful to many investigators in the field to advance both the basic understanding of ISC biology and the therapeutic applications of ISCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-417
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • 5-ethynyl-2 ́-deoxyuridine
  • Cycling cells
  • Fluorescence-activated cell sorting
  • Leucine-rich-repeat-containing G-proteincoupled receptor 5
  • Small intestine


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