Cellular Composition and Differentiation Signaling in Chicken Small Intestinal Epithelium
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The small intestine plays an important role for animals to digest and absorb nutrients. The epithelial lining of the intestine develops from the embryonic endoderm of the embryo. The mature intestinal epithelium is composed of different types of functional epithelial cells that are derived from stem cells, which are located in the crypts. Chickens have been widely used as an animal model for researching vertebrate embryonic development. However, little is known about the molecular basis of development and differentiation within the chicken small intestinal epithelium. This review introduces processes of development and growth in the chicken gut, and compares the cellular characteristics and signaling pathways between chicken and mammals, including Notch and Wnt signaling that control the differentiation in the small intestinal epithelium. There is evidence that the chicken intestinal epithelium has a distinct cellular architecture and proliferation zone compared to mammals. The establishment of an in vitro cell culture model for chickens will provide a novel tool to explore molecular regulation of the chicken intestinal development and differentiation.