Establishment of gastrointestinal assembloids to study the interplay between epithelial crypts and their mesenchymal niche


  • M. Lin
  • K. Hartl
  • J. Heuberger
  • G. Beccaceci
  • H. Berger
  • H. Li
  • L. Liu
  • S. Müllerke
  • T. Conrad
  • F. Heymann
  • A. Woehler
  • F. Tacke
  • N. Rajewsky
  • M. Sigal


  • Nature Communications


  • Nat Commun 14 (1): 3025


  • The cellular organization of gastrointestinal crypts is orchestrated by different cells of the stromal niche but available in vitro models fail to fully recapitulate the interplay between epithelium and stroma. Here, we establish a colon assembloid system comprising the epithelium and diverse stromal cell subtypes. These assembloids recapitulate the development of mature crypts resembling in vivo cellular diversity and organization, including maintenance of a stem/progenitor cell compartment in the base and their maturation into secretory/absorptive cell types. This process is supported by self-organizing stromal cells around the crypts that resemble in vivo organization, with cell types that support stem cell turnover adjacent to the stem cell compartment. Assembloids that lack BMP receptors either in epithelial or stromal cells fail to undergo proper crypt formation. Our data highlight the crucial role of bidirectional signaling between epithelium and stroma, with BMP as a central determinant of compartmentalization along the crypt axis.