Tata Element Modulatory Factor (TMF/ARA160) is a multifunctional Golgi-associated protein, which accumulates in colonic enterocytes and goblet cells. Mice lacking TMF/ARA160 (TMF(-/-)) produce thick and uniform colonic mucus that resists adherent bacterial colonization and diminishes susceptibility of these mice to induced acute colitis, through a mechanism that is not fully understood. Here, we show that mucus secretion by goblet cells is altered in the colon of TMF(-/-) mice, resulting in the formation of a highly oligomerized colonic gel-forming mucin, MUC2. Microbiome analysis revealed a shift in the microbiota of TMF(-/-) mice leading to predominance of the Firmicutes phylum and a significantly higher abundance of probiotic beneficial bacterial species. Notably, this trait was transmissible, and when cohoused with wild-type animals, TMF(-/-) mice influenced the microbiota and diminished the susceptibility of wild-type mice to chemically induced dextran sulfate sodium colitis. Thus, altered mucus secretion in TMF(-/-) mouse colons is accompanied by a reprogrammed intestinal microbiota, leading to a transmissible reduced sensitivity to induced colitis.
Keywords: co-housing; inflammatory bowel disease; mucus granule.