Indole-3-Carbinol Promotes Goblet-Cell Differentiation Regulating Wnt and Notch Signaling Pathways AhR-Dependently
Joo-Hung Park*, Jeong-Min Lee, Eun-Jin Lee, Won-Bhin Hwang, and Da-Jeong Kim
Department of Biology, Changwon National University, Changwon 51140, Korea
Received March 11, 2017; Revised December 18, 2017; Accepted January 8, 2018.; Published online March 21, 2018.
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Using an in vitro model of intestinal organoids derived from intestinal crypts, we examined effects of indole-3-carbinol (I3C), a phytochemical that has anticancer and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR)-activating abilities and thus is sold as a dietary supplement, on the development of intestinal organoids and investigated the underlying mechanisms. I3C inhibited the in vitro development of mouse intestinal organoids. Addition of α-naphthoflavone, an AhR antagonist or AhR siRNA transfection, suppressed I3C function, suggesting that I3C-mediated interference with organoid development is AhR-dependent. I3C increased the expression of Muc2 and lysozyme, lineage-specific genes for goblet cells and Paneth cells, respectively, but inhibits the expression of IAP, a marker gene for enterocytes. In the intestines of mice treated with I3C, the number of goblet cells was reduced, but the number of Paneth cells and the depth and length of crypts and villi were not changed. I3C increased the level of active nonphosphorylated β-catenin, but suppressed the Notch signal. As a result, expression of Hes1, a Notch target gene and a transcriptional repressor that plays a key role in enterocyte differentiation, was reduced, whereas expression of Math1, involved in the differentiation of secretory lineages, was increased. These results provide direct evidence for the role of AhR in the regulation of the development of intestinal stem cells and indicate that such regulation is likely mediated by regulation of Wnt and Notch signals.
Keywords: AhR, goblet, intestinal organoid, I3C, Notch

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