The murine small intestine, or colon mesenchyme, is highly heterogenous, containing distinct cell types including blood and lymphatic endothelium, nerves, fibroblasts, myofibroblasts, smooth muscle cells, immune cells, and the recently identified cell type, telocytes. Telocytes are unique mesenchymal cells with long cytoplasmic processes, reaching a distance of tens to hundreds of microns from the cell body. Telocytes have recently emerged as an important intestinal stem cell niche component, providing Wnt proteins that are essential for stem and progenitor cell proliferation. Although protocols on how to isolate mesenchyme from the mouse intestine are available, it is not clear whether these procedures allow the efficient isolation of telocytes. Isolating telocytes efficiently requires special protocol adjustments that would allow dissociation of the strong cell-cell contact between telocytes and neighboring cells without affecting their viability. Here, available intestinal mesenchyme isolation protocols were adjusted to support the successful isolation and culture of mesenchyme containing a relatively high yield of viable single-cell telocytes. The obtained single-cell suspension can be analyzed by several techniques, such as immunostaining, cell sorting, imaging, and mRNA experiments. This protocol yields mesenchyme with sufficiently conserved antigenic and functional properties of telocytes, and can be used for several applications. For example, they can be used for co-culture with mouse-or human-derived organoids to support organoid growth with no growth factor supplementation, to better reflect the situation in the original tissue.
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