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Paneth cells directly sense gut commensals and maintain homeostasis at the intestinal host-microbial interface.

The intestinal epithelium is in direct contact with a vast microbiota, yet little is known about how epithelial cells defend the host against the heavy bacterial load. To address this question we studied Paneth cells, a key small intestinal epithelial lineage. We found that Paneth cells directly sense enteric bacteria through cell-autonomous MyD88-dependent toll-like receptor (TLR) activation, triggering expression of multiple antimicrobial factors. Paneth cells were essential for controlling intestinal barrier penetration by commensal and pathogenic bacteria. Furthermore, Paneth cell-intrinsic MyD88 signaling limited bacterial penetration of host tissues, revealing a role for epithelial MyD88 in maintaining intestinal homeostasis. Our findings establish that gut epithelia actively sense enteric bacteria and play an essential role in maintaining host-microbial homeostasis at the mucosal interface.

Pubmed ID: 19075245


  • Vaishnava S
  • Behrendt CL
  • Ismail AS
  • Eckmann L
  • Hooper LV


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publication Data

December 30, 2008

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: DK070855
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: DK70867
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: R01 DK070855
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: R01 DK070855-03
  • Agency: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Id:
  • Agency: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Id:

Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Bacteria
  • Bacterial Translocation
  • Homeostasis
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88
  • Paneth Cells
  • Toll-Like Receptors