Immune surveillance of mucosal surfaces requires the delivery of intact macromolecules and microorganisms across epithelial barriers to organized mucosal lymphoid tissues. Transport, processing and presentation of foreign antigens, as well as local induction and clonal expansion of antigen-specific effector lymphocytes, involves a close collaboration between organized lymphoid tissues and the specialized follicle-associated epithelium. M cells in the follicle-associated epithelium transport foreign macromolecules and microorganisms to antigen-presenting cells within and under the epithelial barrier. Determination of the earliest cellular interactions that occur in and under the follicle-associated epithelium could greatly facilitate the design of effective mucosal vaccines in the future.
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Neutra, M., Mantis, N. & Kraehenbuhl, J. Collaboration of epithelial cells with organized mucosal lymphoid tissues. Nat Immunol 2, 1004–1009 (2001) doi:10.1038/ni1101-1004
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