Cell, Volume 180, 2020
Enteric Nervous System-Derived IL-18 Orchestrates Mucosal Barrier Immunity
Mucosal barrier immunity is essential for the maintenance of the commensal microflora and combating invasive bacterial infection. Although immune and epithelial cells are thought to be the canonical orchestrators of this complex equilibrium, here, we show that the enteric nervous system (ENS) plays an essential and non-redundant role in governing the antimicrobial protein (AMP) response. Using confocal microscopy and single-molecule fluorescence in situ mRNA hybridization (smFISH) studies, we observed that intestinal neurons produce the pleiotropic cytokine IL-18. Strikingly, deletion of IL-18 from the enteric neurons alone, but not immune or epithelial cells, rendered mice susceptible to invasive Salmonella typhimurium (S.t.) infection. Mechanistically, unbiased RNA sequencing and single-cell sequencing revealed that enteric neuronal IL-18 is specifically required for homeostatic goblet cell AMP production. Together, we show that neuron-derived IL-18 signaling controls tissue-wide intestinal immunity and has profound consequences on the mucosal barrier and invasive bacterial killing.
Nature, Volume 573, 2019
Mechanosensation of cyclical force by PIEZO1 is essential for innate immunity
Direct recognition of invading pathogens by innate immune cells is a critical driver of the inflammatory response. However, cells of the innate immune system can also sense their local microenvironment and respond to physiological fluctuations in temperature, pH, oxygen and nutrient availability, which are altered during inflammation. Although cells of the immune system experience force and pressure throughout their life cycle, little is known about how these mechanical processes regulate the immune response. Here we show that cyclical hydrostatic pressure, similar to that experienced by immune cells in the lung, initiates an inflammatory response via the mechanically activated ion channel PIEZO1. Mice lacking PIEZO1 in innate immune cells showed ablated pulmonary inflammation in the context of bacterial infection or fibrotic autoinflammation. Our results reveal an environmental sensory axis that stimulates innate immune cells to mount an inflammatory response, and demonstrate a physiological role for PIEZO1 and mechanosensation in immunity.
Nature, Volume 564, 2018
The translation of non-canonical open reading frames controls mucosal immunity
The annotation of the mammalian protein-coding genome is incomplete. Arbitrary size restriction of open reading frames (ORFs) and the absolute requirement for a methionine codon as the sole initiator of translation have constrained the identification of potentially important transcripts with non-canonical protein-coding potential. Here, using unbiased transcriptomic approaches in macrophages that respond to bacterial infection, we show that ribosomes associate with a large number of RNAs that were previously annotated as ‘non-protein coding’. Although the idea that such non-canonical ORFs can encode functional proteins is controversial, we identify a range of short and non-ATG-initiated ORFs that can generate stable and spatially distinct proteins. Notably, we show that the translation of a new ORF ‘hidden’ within the long non-coding RNA Aw112010 is essential for the orchestration of mucosal immunity during both bacterial infection and colitis. This work expands our interpretation of the protein-coding genome and demonstrates that proteinaceous products generated from non-canonical ORFs are crucial for the immune response in vivo. We therefore propose that the misannotation of non-canonical ORF-containing genes as non-coding RNAs may obscure the essential role of a multitude of previously undiscovered protein-coding genes in immunity and disease.
Cell, Volume 163, 2015
Epithelial IL-18 Equilibrium Controls Barrier Function in Colitis
The intestinal mucosal barrier controlling the resident microbiome is dependent on a protective mucus layer generated by goblet cells, impairment of which is a hallmark of the inflammatory bowel disease Ulcerative Colitis. Here we show that IL-18 is critical in driving the pathologic breakdown of barrier integrity in a model of colitis. Deletion of Il18 or its receptor Il18r1 in intestinal epithelial cells (Δ/EC) conferred protection from colitis and mucosal damage in mice. In contrast, deletion of the IL-18 negative regulator Il18bp resulted in severe colitis associated with loss of mature goblet cells. Colitis and goblet cell loss were rescued in Il18bp−/−;Il18rΔ/EC mice, demonstrating that colitis severity is controlled at the level of IL-18 signaling in intestinal epithelial cells. IL-18 inhibited goblet cell maturation by regulating the transcriptional program instructing goblet cell development. These results inform on the mechanism of goblet cell dysfunction which underlies the pathology of Ulcerative Colitis.