The intestines of vertebrates are maintained throughout adult life by the activity of pluripotent intestinal stem cells (ISC’s). The molecular pathways that regulate the behaviors of ISC’s and their progeny underlie many important human health issues.  
Notch Signaling
Drosophila intestinal stem cells (ISCs) generate enterocytes (ECs) and enteroendocrine (ee) cells. Previous work suggests that different levels of the Notch ligand Delta (Dl) in ISCs unidirectionally activate Notch in daughters to control multipotency. However, the mechanisms driving different outcomes remain unknown. We found that during ee cell formation, the ee cell marker Prospero localizes to the basal side of dividing ISCs. After asymmetric division, the ee daughter cell acts as a source of Dl that induces low Notch activity in the ISC to maintain identity. Alternatively, ISCs expressing Dl induce high Notch activity in daughter cells to promote EC formation. Our data reveal a conserved role for Notch in Drosophila and mammalian ISC maintenance and suggest that bidirectional Notch signaling may regulate multipotency in other systems.

Intestinal Stem Cell Proliferation & Tissue Homeostasis
Maintenance of tissue homeostasis is critical in tissues with high turnover such as the intestinal epithelium. The intestinal epithelium is under constant cellular assault due to its digestive functions and its function as a barrier to chemical and bacterial insults. The resulting high rate of cellular turnover necessitates highly controlled mechanisms of regeneration to maintain the integrity of the tissue over the lifetime of the organism. Transient increase in stem cell proliferation is a commonly used and elaborate mechanism to ensure fast and efficient repair of the gut. However, tissue repair is not limited to regulating ISC proliferation, as emerging evidence demonstrates that the Drosophila intestine uses multiple strategies to ensure proper tissue homeostasis that may also extend to other tissues.

Lucchetta and Ohlstein describe an unexpected mechanism of stem cell replacement in the Drosophila intestine. They found that in some situations where many stem cells are lost, they can be replaced through a process of ploidy reduction, or amitosis, of differentiated polyploid cells to regenerate functional stem cells.