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BACKGROUND & AIMS: In homeostasis, intestinal cell fate is controlled by balanced gradients of morphogen signaling. The bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) pathway has a physiological, prodifferentiation role, predominantly inferred through previous experimental pathway inactivation. Intestinal regeneration is underpinned by dedifferentiation and cell plasticity, but the signaling pathways that regulate this adaptive reprogramming are not well understood. We assessed the BMP signaling landscape and investigated the impact and therapeutic potential of pathway manipulation in homeostasis and regeneration. METHODS: A novel mouse model was generated to assess the effect of the autocrine Bmp4 ligand on individual secretory cell fate. We spatiotemporally mapped BMP signaling in mouse and human regenerating intestine. Transgenic models were used to explore the functional impact of pathway manipulation on stem cell fate and intestinal regeneration. RESULTS: In homeostasis, ligand exposure reduced proliferation, expedited terminal differentiation, abrogated secretory cell survival, and prevented dedifferentiation. After ulceration, physiological attenuation of BMP signaling arose through upregulation of the secreted antagonist Grem1 from topographically distinct populations of fibroblasts. Concomitant expression supported functional compensation after Grem1 deletion from tissue-resident cells. BMP pathway manipulation showed that antagonist-mediated BMP attenuation was obligatory but functionally submaximal, because regeneration was impaired or enhanced by epithelial overexpression of Bmp4 or Grem1, respectively. Mechanistically, Bmp4 abrogated regenerative stem cell reprogramming despite a convergent impact of YAP/TAZ on cell fate in remodeled wounds. CONCLUSIONS: BMP signaling prevents epithelial dedifferentiation, and pathway attenuation through stromal Grem1 upregulation was required for adaptive reprogramming in intestinal regeneration. This intercompartmental antagonism was functionally submaximal, raising the possibility of therapeutic pathway manipulation in inflammatory bowel disease.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





239 - 254.e9


Bone Morphogenetic Protein, Dedifferentiation, Grem1, Intestinal Regeneration, Animals, Autocrine Communication, Bone Morphogenetic Protein 4, Cell Differentiation, Cell Proliferation, Colitis, Colon, Epithelial Cells, Female, Humans, Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins, Intestinal Mucosa, Intestine, Small, Male, Mice, Inbred C57BL, Mice, Knockout, Radiation Injuries, Experimental, Re-Epithelialization, Regeneration, Signal Transduction