For the first time, the researchers described all the genes that are active in the different types of human enteroendocrine cells, using a technique called single-cell sequencing. Based on these data they created an atlas with the deepest insights to date into the different subtypes of human enteroendocrine cells. The atlas revealed the activity of genes pivotal to the function of enteroendocrine cells that were not described before. For example, new receptors were identified that these cells can use to sense food and release their hormones. Other discoveries include potential hormones that have never been identified in the gut before.
Large scale screens
With all these data and tools at hand, researchers can now do large scale screens to study which molecules in our food are sensed by which types of enteroendocrine cells, how the enteroendocrine cells actually sense these molecules, and which hormones are produced as a response. Clevers: “The combined ability to make large numbers of all human enteroendocrine cells and track the subtypes using fluorescent colors in organoids makes it possible to perform screens for drug targets that may harness the therapeutic potential of enteroendocrine cells”. This work paves the way for further investigation of the largest hormone-producing organ in our body and may eventually lead to treatments for people affected by obesity and diabetes.
High Resolution mRNA and Secretome Atlas of Human Enteroendocrine Cells. Joep Beumer*, Jens Puschhof*, Julia Bauzá-Martinez*, Adriana Martínez-Silgado, Rasa Elmentaite, Kylie R. James, Alexander Ross, Delilah Hendriks, Benedetta Artegiani, Georg Busslinger, Bas Ponsioen, Amanda Andersson-Rolf, Aurelia Saftien, Charelle Boot, Kai Kretzschmar, Maarten H. Geurts, Yotam E. Bar-Ephraim, Cayetano Pleguezuelos Manzano, Yorick Post, Harry Begthel, Franka van der Linden, Carmen Lopez-Iglesias, Willine J. van de Wetering, Reinier van der Linden, Peter J. Peters, Albert .J.R. Heck, Joachim Goedhart, Hugo Snippert, Matthias Zilbauer, Sarah A. Teichmann, Wei Wu#, Hans Clevers#. Cell 2020.
* these authors contributed equally, # senior researchers