The mammalian gut is colonized by numerous microorganisms collectively termed the microbiota, which have a mutually beneficial relationship with their host1,2,3. Normally, the gut microbiota matures during ontogeny to a state of balanced commensalism marked by the absence of adverse inflammation4,5. Subsets of innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) and conventional T cells are considered to have redundant functions in containment and clearance of microbial pathogens6,7, but how these two major lymphoid-cell populations each contribute to shaping the mature commensal microbiome and help to maintain tissue homeostasis has not been determined. Here we identify, using advanced multiplex quantitative imaging methods, an extensive and persistent phosphorylated-STAT3 signature in group 3 ILCs and intestinal epithelial cells that is induced by interleukin (IL)-23 and IL-22 in mice that lack CD4+ T cells. By contrast, in immune-competent mice, phosphorylated-STAT3 activation is induced only transiently by microbial colonization at weaning. This early signature is extinguished as CD4+ T cell immunity develops in response to the expanding commensal burden. Physiologically, the persistent IL-22 production from group 3 ILCs that occurs in the absence of adaptive CD4+ T-cell activity results in impaired host lipid metabolism by decreasing lipid transporter expression in the small bowel. These findings provide new insights into how innate and adaptive lymphocytes operate sequentially and in distinct ways during normal development to establish steady-state commensalism and tissue metabolic homeostasis.
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We thank Y. Choi and D.M. Kobuley for providing germ free Rag1−/− mice and performing SFB mono-colonization; M. Oukka and S. K. Durum for providing mice; M. Mack, B. Gao and Y. Umesaki for providing anti-CCR2 antibody, IL-22 adenovirus and SFB faecal pellets; C. Eigsti, V. Nair and J. Davis for cell sorting, scanning electron microscopy and microbiota analysis; J. Zhu for discussions; and members of the Laboratory of Systems Biology for their comments during the course of these studies and input during preparation of this manuscript. Y.H. was supported by an NIAID K99 award (1K99AI123350-01A1). This research was supported by the Intramural Research Program of NIAID, NIH.
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European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (2018)