ISC are instructed and protected by specialized epithelial and mesenchymal cells that together constitute the intestinal stem cell niche. We have previously shown that Paneth cells constitute a key part of the ISC niche by providing essential growth factors including Wnt and Notch ligands. The mesenchyme surrounding ISC is also an important source of signals required for the ISC maintenance. In particular immune cells have recently emerged as prominent members of the ISC niche. We want to understand how immune cells dialog with and affect ISC.
Immune cells play also a key role in cancer progression and treatment. Unfortunately, the vast majority of colon cancer are immunologically “cold”, scarcely T-cell infiltrated and therefore unlikely to benefit from immune therapies. We are interested in identifying the mechanisms of CRC immune evasion.