Here we describe the isolation of stem cells of the human colonic epithelium. Differential cell surface abundance of ephrin type-B receptor 2 (EPHB2) allows the purification of different cell types from human colon mucosa biopsies. The highest EPHB2 surface levels correspond to epithelial colonic cells with the longest telomeres and elevated expression of intestinal stem cell (ISC) marker genes. Moreover, using culturing conditions that recreate the ISC niche, a substantial proportion of EPHB2-high cells can be expanded in vitro as an undifferentiated and multipotent population.
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