M cells act like "conveyor belts," ingesting bacteria and transporting substances from the gut into Peyer's patches, specialized tissues resembling lymph nodes in the intestines. Better knowledge of M cells' properties could aid research on oral vaccines and inflammatory bowel diseases.
A team of researchers at Emory University School of Medicine and RIKEN Research Center for Allergy and Immunology in Japan has identified the gene Spi-B as responsible for the differentiation of M cells.
The results are published Sunday, June 17 in the journal Nature Immunology.
"This discovery could really unlock a lot of information about the sequence of events needed for M cells to develop and what makes them distinctive," says co-author Ifor Williams, MD, PhD, associate professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. "M cells have been difficult to study because they are relatively rare, they are only found within the Peyer's patches and can't be grown in isolation."
Scientists at RIKEN, led by senior author Hiroshi Ohno, MD, PhD, teamed up with Williams' laboratory, taking advantage of a discovery by Williams that a protein called RANKL, which is produced by cells in Peyer's patches, can induce M cell differentiation. Research scientist Takashi Kanaya is first author of the paper.
Kanaya and colleagues found that the gene Spi-B is turned on strongly at early stages of M cell differentiation induced by RANKL. Their suspicion of Spi-B's critical role was confirmed when they discovered that mice lacking Spi-B do not have functional M cells, and the cells in the intestines lack several other markers usually found on M cells.
"It was somewhat surprising to find Spi-B expressed in intestinal epithelial cells," Williams says. "Because Spi-B is known to be important for the development of some types of immune cells, it was thought to be expressed only in bone marrow-derived cells."
In fact, the M cells in Spi-B deficient mice can't be restored by a transplant of normal bone marrow, the researchers found. That means Spi-B has to be active in intestinal epithelial cells (not immune cells) for M cells to develop.
Williams says information about M cells – in particular, what molecules they have on their surfaces – could be useful for targeting oral vaccines. Most vaccines in use today are administered by injection. But immunologists believe that in some cases, it may be better to deliver vaccines through the mouth or nose, thus strengthening the body's defenses where an infection starts.
Because M cells are involved in the uptake of bacteria, the study of M cells could also guide development of treatments for inflammatory bowel diseases, in which immune responses to intestinal bacteria appear to become dysregulated.
The research at RIKEN was supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan, the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, the Japan Science and Technology Agency, the Japan Science Society, the Takeda Science Foundation, the Mitsubishi Foundation and the Uehara Memorial Foundation.
The research in Williams' lab is supported by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (5R01DK064730-07) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
T. Kanaya et al. The Ets Transcription Factor Spi-B Is Essential for the Differentiation of Intestinal Microfold (M) Cells. Nat. Immunol. (2012) doi:10.1038/ni.2352
The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center (http://www.whsc.emory.edu/home/about) of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focusing on teaching, research, health care and public service.
Quinn Eastman | EurekAlert!
Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery
20.01.2017 | GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH
Seeking structure with metagenome sequences
20.01.2017 | DOE/Joint Genome Institute
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences