How early-life colonization and subsequent exposure to the microbiota affect long-term tissue immunity remains poorly understood. Here, we show that the development of mucosal-associated invariant T (MAIT) cells relies on a specific temporal window, after which MAIT cell development is permanently impaired. This imprinting depends on early-life exposure to defined microbes that synthesize riboflavin-derived antigens. In adults, cutaneous MAIT cells are a dominant population of interleukin-17A (IL-17A)-producing lymphocytes, which display a distinct transcriptional signature and can subsequently respond to skin commensals in an IL-1-, IL-18-, and antigen-dependent manner. Consequently, local activation of cutaneous MAIT cells promotes wound healing. Together, our work uncovers a privileged interaction between defined members of the microbiota and MAIT cells, which sequentially controls both tissue-imprinting and subsequent responses to injury.
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