The kinase PAR-4/LKB1 is a major regulator of intestinal homeostasis, which prevents polyposis in humans. Moreover, its ectopic activation is sufficient to induce polarization and formation of microvilli-like structures in intestinal cell lines. Here, we use Caenorhabditis elegans to examine the role of PAR-4 during intestinal development in vivo. We show that it is not required to establish enterocyte polarity and plays only a minor role in brush border formation. By contrast, par-4 mutants display severe deformations of the intestinal lumen as well as supernumerary intestinal cells, thereby revealing a previously unappreciated function of PAR-4 in preventing intestinal hyperplasia. The presence of supernumerary enterocytes in par-4 mutants is not due to excessive cell proliferation, but rather to the abnormal expression of the intestinal cell fate factors end-1 and elt-2 outside the E lineage. Notably, par-4 mutants also display reduced expression of end-1 and elt-2 inside the E lineage. Our work thereby unveils an essential and dual role of PAR-4, which both restricts intestinal specification to the E lineage and ensures its robust differentiation.

You do not currently have access to this content.