PRC2 preserves intestinal progenitors and restricts secretory lineage commitment

Fulvio Chiacchiera, Alessandra Rossi, Sri Ganesh Jammula, Marika Zanotti, Diego Pasini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chromatin modifications shape cell heterogeneity by activating and repressing defined sets of genes involved in cell proliferation, differentiation and development. Polycomb-repressive complexes (PRCs) act synergistically during development and differentiation by maintaining transcriptional repression of common genes. PRC2 exerts this activity by catalysing H3K27 trimethylation. Here, we show that in the intestinal epithelium PRC2 is required to sustain progenitor cell proliferation and the correct balance between secretory and absorptive lineage differentiation programs. Using genetic models, we show that PRC2 activity is largely dispensable for intestinal stem cell maintenance but is strictly required for radiation-induced regeneration by preventing Cdkn2a transcription. Combining these models with genomewide molecular analysis, we further demonstrate that preferential accumulation of secretory cells does not result from impaired proliferation of progenitor cells induced by Cdkn2a activation but rather from direct regulation of transcription factors responsible for secretory lineage commitment. Overall, our data uncover a dual role of PRC2 in intestinal homeostasis highlighting the importance of this repressive layer in controlling cell plasticity and lineage choices in adult tissues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2301-2314
Number of pages14
JournalEMBO Journal
Issue number21
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2 2016


  • chromatin modifications
  • H3K27 methylation
  • intestinal homeostasis and differentiation
  • polycomb
  • PRC2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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