The gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALTs), including Peyer's patches (PPs), cryptopatches (CPs) and isolated lymphoid follicles (ILFs), establish a host-microbe symbiosis by the promotion of immune reactions against gut microbes. Microfold cell inducer (MCi) cells in GALTs are the recently identified mesenchymal cells that express the cytokine RANKL and initiate bacteria-specific immunoglobulin A (IgA) production via induction of microfold (M) cell differentiation. In the previous study, the Twist2-Cre driver was utilized for gene deletion in mesenchymal cells including MCi cells. In order to investigate MCi cells more extensively, it will be necessary to develop experimental tools in addition to the Twist2-Cre driver mice and characterize such drivers in specificity and efficiency. Here we show that M cell differentiation and IgA production are impaired in the targeted deletion of RANKL by the Col6a1-Cre driver. We compared Col6a1-Cre with Twist2-Cre in terms of the specificity for mesenchymal cells in GALTs. Col6a1-Cre CAG-CAT-EGFP mice exhibited EGFP expression in podoplanin+CD31- cells including MCi cells, while Twist2-Cre mice were shown to target endothelial cells and podoplanin+CD31- cells. Tnfsf11fl/ΔCol6a1-Cre mice exhibited the absence of M cells and severe IgA reduction together with an alteration in gut microbial composition. Moreover, we analyzed germ free mice to test whether changes in the microbiota are the cause of M cell deficiency. M cell differentiation was normal in the CPs/ILFs of germ free mice, indicating that MCi cells induce M cells independently of microbial colonization. This study demonstrates that Col6a1-Cre driver mice are as useful as Twist2-Cre driver mice for functional analyses of GALT-resident mesenchymal cells, including MCi cells.
Keywords: IgA; M cell inducer cells; Mesenchymal stromal cells; Peyer's patch; The gut microbiota.
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