The intestinal epithelial regeneration is driven by intestinal stem cells under homeostatic conditions. Differentiated intestinal epithelial cells, such as Paneth cells, are capable of acquiring multipotency and contributing to regeneration upon the loss of intestinal stem cells. Paneth cells also support intestinal stem cell survival and regeneration. We report here that depletion of an RNA-binding protein named polypyrimidine tract binding protein 1 (PTBP1) in mouse intestinal epithelial cells causes intestinal stem cell death and epithelial regeneration failure. Mechanistically, we show that PTBP1 inhibits neuronal-like splicing programs in intestinal crypt cells, which is critical for maintaining intestinal stem cell stemness. This function is achieved at least in part through promoting the non-productive splicing of its paralog PTBP2. Moreover, PTBP1 inhibits the expression of an AKT inhibitor PHLDA3 in Paneth cells and permits AKT activation, which presumably maintains Paneth cell plasticity and function in supporting intestinal stem cell niche. We show that PTBP1 directly binds to a CU-rich region in the 3′ UTR of Phlda3, which we demonstrate to be critical for downregulating the mRNA and protein levels of Phlda3. Our results thus reveal the multifaceted in vivo regulation of intestinal epithelial regeneration by PTBP1 at the post-transcriptional level.
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