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The antibacterial lectin RegIIIgamma promotes the spatial segregation of microbiota and host in the intestine.

The mammalian intestine is home to ~100 trillion bacteria that perform important metabolic functions for their hosts. The proximity of vast numbers of bacteria to host intestinal tissues raises the question of how symbiotic host-bacterial relationships are maintained without eliciting potentially harmful immune responses. Here, we show that RegIIIγ, a secreted antibacterial lectin, is essential for maintaining a ~50-micrometer zone that physically separates the microbiota from the small intestinal epithelial surface. Loss of host-bacterial segregation in RegIIIγ(-/-) mice was coupled to increased bacterial colonization of the intestinal epithelial surface and enhanced activation of intestinal adaptive immune responses by the microbiota. Together, our findings reveal that RegIIIγ is a fundamental immune mechanism that promotes host-bacterial mutualism by regulating the spatial relationships between microbiota and host.

Pubmed ID: 21998396


  • Vaishnava S
  • Yamamoto M
  • Severson KM
  • Ruhn KA
  • Yu X
  • Koren O
  • Ley R
  • Wakeland EK
  • Hooper LV


Science (New York, N.Y.)

Publication Data

October 14, 2011

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: R01 DK070855
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: R01 DK070855
  • Agency: NIDDK NIH HHS, Id: R01 DK070855-06
  • Agency: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Id:
  • Agency: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Id:

Mesh Terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Bacterial Load
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria
  • Gram-Positive Bacteria
  • Homeostasis
  • Immunoglobulin A
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Intestine, Small
  • Lectins, C-Type
  • Metagenome
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Myeloid Differentiation Factor 88
  • Proteins
  • Symbiosis
  • T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer